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Keenan Re-Elected to Serve as Mayor; Singh as Deputy Mayor; Ahn Appointed to Committee

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted January 6, 2022

The Montgomery Township Committee unanimously re-elected Devra Keenan to serve as mayor for a third year at its reorganizational meeting on January 5. In addition, Neena Singh was re-elected to serve as deputy mayor and Montgomery businessman Dennis Ahn was appointed to fill a seat vacated in December by Marvin Schuldiner for health reasons.

Township Attorney Wendy Rubinstein-Quiroga swears in Mayor Devra Keenan.

Mayor Keenan thanked Montgomery Township voters for supporting the current five-member Township Committee — all belong to the Democratic Party. "When I look at the five of us up here, I am proud to serve on one of the most diverse and representative governing bodies in the state," she said.

Paul Blodgett of Belle Mead, chairperson of the Montgomery Democratic Party, added during the public comment section that, "This is one of the strongest ... committees we've had. We have got such a depth of experience — Dennis Ahn from the business community, people with legal experience [Patricia Todd], people with military and finance experience [Vincent Barragan], people with real estate experience [Singh] ... we have such a remarkable, diverse ... committee serving us."

"This is what I fought for in the military, and to have free speech," he said. "Thank you for upholding that."

Township Attorney Wendy Rubinstein-Quiroga swears in Committeeman Vincent Barragan, the first Latino elected in Montgomery Township.

Deputy Mayor Singh thanked township committee for placing their trust and confidence in her to serve a full term as deputy mayor.

"I have lived, volunteered, and worked in Montgomery for the past 25 years and my three kids are Montgomery High School alums," she said. "Montgomery and the community have given me, an immigrant woman, incredible opportunities, love, and acceptance. It is an honor to serve my town."

Singh has noted she is the first Sikh to serve as an elected governing official of a municipality in New Jersey. She had lived in Canada prior to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson swears in Neena Singh.

Township Attorney Wendy Rubinstein-Quiroga swears in Committeeman Dennis Ahn, who is a partner in the Paris Baguette and owner of the future Kasia gourmet Asian supermarket planned for Route 206 in Belle Mead.

Year in Review and Goals for 2023

Mayor Keenan presented remarks on behalf of township committee, reviewing the highlights of 2022 and goals for 2023.

"Township Committee kicked off a new long-term strategic planning process in December, with the focus of how to continue to enhance Montgomery as a premier township," she said. Some of the directional goals include:

  • Making Montgomery a model of environmental stewardship and disaster preparedness.

  • Getting people out of their cars and making Montgomery accessible to pedestrians by creating new sidewalks, bike lanes, and paths that connect residents to parks, schools, the municipal building and library, and to retail/commercial hubs.

  • Continuing to make the best use of tax dollars by making prudent financial decisions — seeking alternate sources of funding such as grants and reviewing shared services offerings to other towns that make sense to Montgomery tax payers.

The mayor also said township committee plans to make municipal government more user-friendly, accessible, and to ensure information is readily available and easily accessible.

"Most importantly, we need to make critical township messages available to township residents in their preferred language and mode of communication," she said.

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Not mentioned at the meeting — plans for the former township municipal building in Belle Mead on Route 206, which has been vacant and mothballed since the Montgomery police and municipal offices moved to the new building on Orchard Road. The Montgomery News has been unable to get an answer to this question, despite having tried multiple times.

Achievements in 2022

Mayor Keenan characterized 2022 as "a year of transition."

"We opened a new municipal building, and said goodbye to a number of long-serving employees," she said. "We welcomed Lori Savron to her new role township administrator. She hit the ground running, and we are please with everything that has happened so far under her watch."

Other achievements mentioned:

  • A new cricket field.

  • The return of the Montgomery July 4th fireworks display, which attracted more than 7,000 people.

  • Increased funding for Montgomery emergency services: including for two volunteer fire companies and the all-volunteer EMS.

  • Providing COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics that resulted in one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.

  • A focus on police efforts to expand gender and cultural representation that better reflects the makeup of the Montgomery community; and a coffee with a cop event to promote community relations.

  • Keeping a commitment to stretch taxpayer dollars by securing more grants than ever — $2 million — from the county and state.

  • Connecting the Otto Kaufman Community Center to public water and gas.

Township Committee approved the following appointments.

  • Township Attorney and Tax Litigation/Appeals Attorney: 1 yr., Wendy Rubinstein-Quiroga (Weiner Law) (Not to exceed $300,000).

  • Environmental Engineer: Kleinfelder, Inc. ($250,000)

  • Environmental Engineer: James Cosgrove of One Water Consulting ($250,000)

  • Planning Board

    • Members: Paul Blodgett, Brian Hamilton, Dave Campeas, and Sarah Roberts.

    • Alternates: Tony Glockler, Ibad Kahn, James Laskey, and Balachandra Naik.

  • Fire Marshal, 1 yr., Roy Mondi

  • Board of Health

    • Om Sharma, Alexander Wolfson, Siddiq Faisal, and an alternate (Neeta Bahal O’Mara).

  • Planning Board - Patricia Todd

  • Recreation Committee - Stephen Shueh, Denyce Mylson, and Kent Huang. Advisor: Matt Rosenthal.

  • Shade Tree Committee - Larry Koplik, Judy Colburn, Irene Stein, Rashmi Pandey, Carol Gell, Sandra Richter, and Taraja Amoako-Poku.

  • Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee - Hugh Dyer, Dimitra Bairaktaria, and Donald Matthews.

  • Agricultural Advisory Committee - John Johnson, Jr..

  • Economic Development Commission - Akshat Yalamarty, Kavin Mehta, and Arun Mani.

  • Board of Health Advisor - Bert Mandelbaum, MD

  • Inclusion & Equity Committee Advisor - Jeff Knol

  • Environmental Commission - Sarah Roberts, Mary Reece, Ratna Revankar, and Brian Zinn.

  • Landmarks Commission - Jessie Havens, Dawn Hammell, and Rikki Massand.

  • OEM Coordinator - Sean Devlin.


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