SECAUCUS - With a promise to "make this government run like a business" and "do what's right for everyone," former Secaucus 2nd Ward Town Councilman Michael Gonnelli was sworn in as Secaucus' 15th mayor in a ceremonial inauguration held Saturday.
Officially, Gonnelli took the helm on Jan. 1.
Briefly choking up as he thanked his family and supporters, Gonnelli told an audience of 550-600 at the Arthur F. Couch Performing Arts Center that, "The challenges, we have a few. Everyone knows what the financial [situation] out there is. We're going to be faced this year with tax appeals. We have a lack of ratables. We have challenges in our school system. We have a lot of development that's taking place that's going to mean more children. But I give you my word we're going to look at everything thoroughly. The town is going to move forward."
Gonnelli succeeds Richard Steffens who was appointed in September to serve out the remainder of former Mayor Dennis Elwell's term in office, which was to end Dec. 31. Elwell resigned in July after being arrested on corruption charges.
Last November, Mayor Gonnelli, who was often at odds with Elwell, led an Independent ticket of council candidates who easily defeated a rival slate of Elwell-allied Democrats.
Newly elected councilmen Rob Costantino (1st Ward) and William McKeever (3rd Ward) were also sworn in during the hour-long ceremony Saturday, as was 2nd Ward Town Councilman John Bueckner, who was reelected in November.
During the ceremony, the Town Council held a brief official meeting at which the governing body voted unanimously to appoint Jim Clancy to the council to serve out the rest of Gonnelli's term, which ends next Dec. 31.
Clancy, a social studies teacher at Secaucus High School, has previously served on the council. - E. Assata Wright