FANWOOD — Mayor Colleen Mahr began her sixth term in office last week by stating her belief “in public service to my core” and calling government “a noble and just profession.”
“I am as humbled, honored and excited as I was 20 years ago” when beginning her first term, the mayor said at the borough council’s joyous and light-hearted reorganization meeting on January 3. She was sworn into her new term by Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way, who called Ms. Mahr “a beacon, a north star of integrity” while noting that she is “one of the longest-serving female mayors” in the state. Ms. Way also swore in Councilmen Anthony Carter and Jeffrey Banks to new three-year terms on the governing body, which is populated by all Democrats.
Mayor Mahr was elected to her sixth term in November and, like Mr. Carter and Mr. Banks, ran unopposed. Ms. Mahr first was elected in 2003 when she defeated Republican mayor Louis Jung. In 2007, she won reelection without opposition and in 2011, she defeated Republican Joseph Britt to win a third term. She won her fourth and fifth terms in 2015 and 2019 without any opposition.
Besides Ms. Way, the standing room-only crowd included Assemblywoman Linda Carter, County Commissioner Al Mirabella and Scotch Plains Mayor Joshua Losardo. Joe Schott, a World War II veteran celebrating his 102nd birthday, led the meeting in the flag salute and Fanwood poet laureate Adele Kenny read a poem she wrote especially for the occasion.
Councilwoman Katherine Mitchell was chosen to serve as council president for 2024. Councilwoman Patricia Walsh called Ms. Mitchell a “dedicated” council member who “works hard every day.” Ms. Mitchell said it was a “great honor” to be chosen to lead the council.
In brief remarks, the mayor thanked the voters for electing her to an “unprecedented” sixth term, and also put in a pitch for “more women to get involved” in government, noting that only about 70 towns in New Jersey have a female mayor. She also saluted her council colleagues, past and present, and noted that she has never had to cast a tie-breaking vote in 20 years.
Mayor Mahr additionally saluted borough volunteers, saying Fanwood “doesn’t run without them,” and promised continued support for the police and fire departments and rescue squad. She called for people to “be kind” amidst the current negative environment across the country and said her goal is to “always make sure residents feel safe.”
The borough council’s first business meeting of the year will take place on Tuesday, January 16.