Marlboro bipartisanship of a different kind marks Hornik’s first 100 days

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MARLBORO – Elected officials from both parties went down in disgrace in Marlboro over the last few years as the feds unraveled a string of development kickback schemes that sent the town into a tailspin of sprawl.

But now the names of Republican Matt Scannapieco and Democrat Frank Abate have been replaced by a younger generation of politicians who say their bipartisanship is based on bettering the long-troubled town.

Mayor Jonathan Hornik, who defeated incumbent Republican Robert Kleinberg last year in an ugly mayoral contest, on Wednesday night received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd and across-the-aisle praise from Council President Jeffrey Cantor on the occasion of Hornik’s first 100 days in office.

"In my four years, this is the closest and most cohesive it’s been between the council and the administration," said Cantor, a 2007 Republican candidate for freeholder who narrowly lost to Hornik’s fellow Democrat John D’Amico.

"I feel privileged to be working with Mayor Hornik in accomplishing all of the great things he set out to do," Cantor told a crowd of Marlboro residents at the Greenbriar senior citizens complex moments before Hornik stood at a podium and reported that his administration has thus far made "substantial progress in a bi-partisan manner for the first time in decades."

It could get grim at one point. Marlboro faces reduced state aid and a revaluation that will likely stir residents.. But for now, it’s a lovefest of young stars from both parties getting in on the Hornik honeymoon.

The new mayor of the town claiming the most voters (around 22,000) in the 12th legislative district said his long-term goal is to shift as much as possible a local tax burden of 90% currently on the residents to the town’s commercial base. The commercial portion now consumes just 6.8% of local taxes. He’s also trying to fulfill the difficult, but doable, he insists, challenge of fulfilling the town’ Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) obligation while also preserving open space.

Hornik ran on saving Stattel’s Farm on the corner of Route 520 and Highway 79. Last night he said his administration is working with the Stattel family to preserve the property as open space.

Hornik’s administration formed an economic development committee to stimulate business, implemented a hiring freeze at town hall, cut discretionary spending and settled litigation that would cut the town’s legal budget by 20% or $100,000.

A new grants writer will be compensated, Hornik said, when the firm, Patriots Associates, secures key grants for Marlboro. The town has entered a shared services agreement with Manalapan that would require Manalapan residents to pay for use of the Marlboro Swim Club. Marlboro is also loaning out its roads line-striping truck, offering new and varied services to teens and seniors and broadcasting its meetings on local television, the mayor said.

"You are doing a great job for your town," Hornik told Cantor and the council. "Keep it up."

The town’s department and division heads took bows at the urging of both Hornik and Cantor.

Marlboro bipartisanship of a different kind marks Hornik’s first 100 days