Rocky Hill Mayor Bob Uhrik and Borough Clerk Rebecca Newman
at swearing in ceremony. Photo by Rikki N. Massand.
At the Rocky Hill Borough Council’s annual reorganization meeting on Wednesday, January 2, new Mayor Bob Uhrik was sworn in for a four-year term of service. His wife, former borough councilwoman Eileen Uhrik, and their daughter Rebecca attended the ceremony.
Uhrik told attendees he was honored to have the privilege to be mayor. He outlined his priorities, saying he wants to make sure "the lovely town" of Rocky Hill keeps efficient, cost-conscious, and meets residents' needs.
“I am stepping into a long line of distinguished mayors and I hope to do just as well as they did. I know I will do my best to serve the people of Rocky Hill, and I take it as my charge to be a servant of the people. I am up for the challenge. Thank you all — let’s get to work!” he said.
Two council members elected in November, Connie Hallman and Incumbent Irene Battaglia, were also sworn in at the January 2 meeting. Battaglia was joined by her family, husband Devon, five-year-old daughter Claire and eight-year-old son Alden. The children held the Bible as she took the oath of office. (See photo below):
Borough council nominated Billy Dawson then unanimously voted that he retain his position as borough council president.
Three candidates emerged for the open seat on Rocky Hill Borough Council, which Uhrik vacated in order to assume the mayoral role this year. According to state guidelines, three candidates for the one council role needed to be selected by the Democratic party since Mayor Uhrik ran as a Democrat in 2018, although the selections did not need to identify as Democrats themselves.
The nominees are Rasheeda Pretto, Leanna Jahnke, and Tom Bremner. Pretto and Jahnke have been registered Democrats for a long period while Bremner recently registered as a Democrat to match the municipal committee qualifications. Bremner had run as an Independent for mayor but lost to Uhrik in a very close race in November.
Bremner is president of the Rocky Hill First Aid and Rescue Squad.
Each person was notified of their nomination to as candidate for council and were asked to submit resumes or bios by January 11, which then will be distributed to council. Each candidate is set to deliver a presentation and answer questions in front of the council at its January 23 meeting. That night the new member will be selected, sworn in, and they will participate for the rest of the meeting.
“The governing body shall, within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, appoint one of the nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy. If the governing body fails to appoint one of the nominees within the time prescribed herein, the municipal committee that named the three nominees shall, within the next 15 days, appoint one of the nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy and such person shall be sworn in immediately,” Dawson said.
Dawson thanked Deputy Borough Clerk Christine Witt, who is also a Rocky Hill resident and former Montgomery Board of Education president. Witt had suggested a the process for nominees to give presentations in front of council — a process she had experienced as a school board member.
Rocky Hill Borough Council approved three applications to the NJ State Fireman’s Association from the following individuals: Ziad Bauzaiene-Ayari, Aaron L. Giacoletti, and Keith C. Wadsworth.
One of Mayor Uhrik’s first orders of business was reflecting on how welcoming and charming Rocky Hill looked this holiday season to visitors, passers-by, and neighbors as many residents decorated their homes with outdoor lights, candlelit windowsills, and larger displays.
“These displays brighten our town and this meeting is my only opportunity to say thank you to those residents. Our town does look nicer because of that. I give kudos — the top two homes with such lovely decor are Marilyn Crane’s, as always, and Councilman Mark Sibley’s. Congrats and thank you!” Uhrik said.
The issue of properly collecting Christmas trees on sidewalks was discussed by council, and Borough Clerk Rebecca Newman made inquiries for mass tree pick-ups. She says some residents have their trees collected by Somerset County but a vendor, J & L, would pick up trees for the same price as given in January 2018 — $1,000. Newman was awaiting a response from Somerset County Recycling (trees are a recyclable) with a price quote to the borough.
“We are waiting to hear if the county does it for less than $1,000 or perhaps for free,” she explained.
Mayor Uhrik says if Somerset County is not responding, the date to authorize the vendor would be Tuesday January 15, and council agreed.