The year of 2002 was one of turnover and turmoil for the Guttenberg Town Council. One member resigned under allegations of impropriety and another chose not to seek re-election. A replacement was appointed, but resigned only a few months later after taking a job in state government.
However, those dark days might be a thing of the past now that Tom Barnes and Jennifer Credidio have been sworn into office to begin two-year terms on the council. Barnes, who was already an appointed member of the council for two months before to his victory in November, now gets his own full term. Credidio is holding public office for the first time.
Both council members offer stability. “Someone said to me that there was a lot of turnover in the council in the past,” said the 26-year-old Credidio. “I quickly said, ‘Well, not anymore.’ I think we’re in it for the long haul.”
“Stability is probably the right word to use,” said Barnes, who took over last July after Ramon de la Cruz resigned to take a job in Gov. Jim McGreevey’s administration. “The governing body in this town has not been stable. We’ve gone through a lot of chaos and changes. But I think we now have the nucleus in place to move forward.”
Mayor David Delle Donna is also looking forward to working with the new members of the council.
“It was a tumultuous first year for me as mayor,” Delle Donna said. “Now that we have a strong council in place, I’m looking forward to getting back to the business of governing the town. I’m looking forward to working with Jen and Tom. They are two professionals who have a lot of ability. I’m looking forward to a little stability, with a council that now gets along very well.”
Credidio said that she jumped right into work after taking the oath on New Year’s Day. “As much as you think you’re prepared, you really aren’t,” said Credidio, who is a law student and a part-time law clerk. “There are so many things to attend to. The scope is tremendous. I thought I was pretty familiar with government, but things are completely different. I’ve been in Town Hall every day since New Year’s Day.”
Credidio has been assigned as the chairman of recreation, an area for which she has already presented plans to Delle Donna.
“The one thing Jen has already talked to me about was starting a recreation program for young adults, say 18 through 25,” Delle Donna said. “We’ve been really lacking in that area. I think having Jen on the council is important, not only because she’s a woman, but she’s a young woman with a different perspective and gives us a younger point of view.”
Barnes, a retired Navy pilot, said that taking the oath of office this time means that the position is truly his.
“The last time, it was like I inherited it,” Barnes said. “I was taking a spot of someone who took it from someone else. But this was the best, knowing it was mine. Now, I’ll be able to do things I told people I’d do when I was running. I think we’re all headed in a positive direction together.”
That is, until June, when Delle Donna has to seek re-election in the Democratic primary, along with incumbent councilmen Javier Inclan and Gerald Drasheff.
“In Guttenberg, you can never get too comfortable, because there’s always someone running,” Delle Donna said. “But we have the team in place to give some stability until then.”