25-year-old mayor takes the reins in Springfield

Springfield Township became the municipality with the youngest serving mayor in New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Mayor Ziad Andrew Shehady, 25, was sworn into office by Lt.-Gov Kim Guadagno along with newly elected Republican councilmen Marc Krauss and Jerry Fernandez, whose campaigns Shehady managed.

“I am giving the oath of office to someone half my age,” joked Guadagno, 50.

Shehady is four years older than Harry Zikas, Jr. was when he became mayor of Alpha at the age of 21, serving two terms from 2000 to 2007.

The traditionally Democratic town is now under Republican control with a majority of 3-2 in the town’s governing body, which elects the mayor.

Shehady was elected to the township committee in 2008 and in 2009 served as chair of the finance committee of the township council. He urged that the governing body would “put Springfield first” as a “productive and responsible team” to create a government organized as a business.

The new mayor said he plans to consolidate various boards and committees to simplify processes and ameliorate what he described as poor communication between departments. The new mayor said he is also excited to undertake new beautification and eco-friendly initiatives. In addition, Springfield will soon boast its own public access channel to improve communication and transparency between the government and its constituents

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Twp.), Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield), Senate Minority Whip Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), Garwood Councilman Anthony Sytko (R-Garwood), and Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi attended.

Deputy Mayor Bart Fraenkel, the former mayor, said that the new administration will be working diligently to accomplish “the things that we’ve been talking about for years: get bipartisanism out of the way, get government first.”

Despite a majority turnover, the emphasis of the event was bipartisanship and teamwork. Krauss said, “The 2010 township committee isn’t about our respective parties; it’s about Springfield and its residents first. Always.”

Lance further endorsed bipartisanship in spite of his party’s victory, saying, “Together we share a sense of purpose, recognizing in Lincoln’s immortal phrase that America is man’s last best hope on earth. May that always be the case.”

25-year-old mayor takes the reins in Springfield