Michael Inganamort Sworn in as Mayor
On Tuesday, January 3rd, the Chester Township Council reorganized for 2023 and Mike Inganamort took the oath of office as mayor. After thanking his family, colleagues, and invited guests, Mayor Inganamort made the following remarks:
Good government that delivers for residents does not happen by accident. It requires proactive thinking, collaboration, and hard work. I know that with this Council – including Councilmen Tim Drag, Joe DiPaolo, and John Butkus – as well as our highly capable Administrator, Robin Collins, and our erstwhile attorney, John Suminski, we are up to the task.
My priorities as mayor are five-fold:
To deliver smart budgets that stabilize taxes and share services. Given the country’s record inflation, increased fuel costs, and the ever-growing mandates from our state government – including a state-mandated 22% increase in healthcare premiums and a 19% increase in pension costs – this will be our greatest challenge in Chester Township and my top priority.
Chester Township faces its most difficult budget environment in more than a decade, and certainly the most challenging that anyone on this Council has faced. The decision-making that will be necessary to soften this blow will require civic courage. We’ve all heard the saying that character is doing the right thing when no one is looking. I would offer that civic courage is doing the right thing when everyone is looking. In front of you all, we may need to decide: what road improvements will come off the list? What retiring employees will not be replaced? What capital projects can be delayed? The courage to sometimes say no, even to those things that we support and want for our community.
My second priority is to promote local volunteerism, especially among our first responders. Chester is one of New Jersey’s safest communities, thanks to the professionalism of our Chester Police Department and the volunteers of our Chester First Aid Squad and Chester Volunteer Fire Company. Our first responders deserve our support – officially and unofficially – and the tools to get the job done. We must always work to recruit more volunteer first responders.
Protect open space. We’ll continue to responsibly invest in our parks and the open space that makes Chester Township unique. As importantly, I am committed to finally bringing the current round of our affordable housing obligation to a responsible conclusion, in line with the criteria to which this and prior Councils have agreed.
Prioritize infrastructure improvements that enhance quality of life. As this Council’s five-year liaison to the Parks Committee, I take special pride in our community’s miles of hiking trails, improved sports fields, first-in-the-area pickleball court, and exciting new projects such as the wildflower meadow at the MacGregor Preserve and the eventual installation of a pavilion in Chubb Park.
Lastly, I commit to providing collaborative leadership and frequent communication. Collaborative leadership requires mutual respect, which this Council and Administration have in spades. This did not happen by accident. It requires daily maintenance. But I am enormously proud and grateful that it exists. Frequent communication is my responsibility and it begins now. Going forward, you can expect detailed updates from me in the Mayor’s Remarks portion of most Council meetings, which will be posted to the Township website. You can also expect a monthly email newsletter from Chester Township, with updates from nearly every department. Those of you in the audience tonight will also experience this communication first-hand, in the regularly-scheduled meeting that will start shortly, as I provide additional detail on our garbage collection contract, all of which will be communicated to residents in full.
Despite the serious financial challenges we face, our goals and aspirations for Chester Township remain high. Chester Township should always be a place where three generations of a family enjoy a high quality of life together. That will be my guiding principle and I look forward to executing on it alongside our capable Council, administration, abundant community volunteers, and engaged residents.
Thank you again for your support throughout this process – now let’s get to work.