The following is a transcript of remarks made by newly elected Maplewood Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams at the annual Maplewood Reorganization Meeting held on January 1, 2016.
2016 Township Reorganization Meeting Remarks
We live in a very unique community here in Maplewood. There are the obvious and wonderful aspects of beautiful homes, an educated, diverse and inclusive population, beautiful parks and a wonderful quaint downtown and growing business districts. In thinking back to when I moved here in 1989, the thing that strikes me most is how beautifully Maplewood has grown and changed for the better. In fact, when I moved here, I met several people in my neighborhood and in town who’d lived here for a long time who warned me that “Maplewood is changing.” Many of those people moved out of town, typically west on 78; I wasn’t sad to see them go. They were replaced by people who wanted to live here; who wanted to live with people who weren’t necessarily like themselves. That’s what makes life so much more interesting.
Maplewood has embraced all people white and black, gay and straight, of all different faiths, from all over the country and the world. Our communities of Maplewood and South Orange are unique in that we talk about issues that arise, we don’t run from the conversation. We want to make it work. We want inclusion of all people of different religions, ages, sexes, and races. When issues arise and change happens we discuss and delve into the details to address our concerns whether that’s about redevelopment projects, school issues, historic preservation, or inclusion. That is indeed something incredibly special. I want to continue to play a role in that and in all aspects of keeping Maplewood progressive and a model for other communities.
As I take office, I do worry about, and want to work on, how to continue to embrace change while maintaining those characteristics we love about our town, and I want to figure out how to keep our population inclusive. I believe we are at risk of losing that with regard to income and age diversity here. I don’t want to see Maplewood become exclusive rather than inclusive, but the high cost of housing and property taxes are seemingly a never-ending challenge. These factors are the greatest threat to our loss of a community that is inclusive of everyone. We need to work with our state representatives to address these issues. The school funding formulas that hurt our towns and the state’s heavy reliance on property taxes are two extremely important issues that need to be addressed in Trenton in order to help us retain the variety of citizens so vital to our community.
I commend our governing body for being cautious, responsible, responsive and careful with decisions it has made and I pledge to do the same. I thank Jerry Ryan and Kathy Leventhal for their dedicated leadership for so many years and working to keep Maplewood the wonderful town we love. I thank our Mayor Vic DeLuca for his strong leadership and guidance, Marlon Brownlee and India Larrier for their always considered opinions and questions on issues before them. And I look forward to working with all of them and my running mate Greg Lembrich.
I am always happy to see so many in our town willing to help, to volunteer and to organize events and groups to work towards issues that affect our community and beyond. We always need more volunteers, and if you as a resident want your voice heard, the best way to be heard is to get involved. If you want to be part of solutions, be part of the process. You’ll be richly rewarded as I feel I have been. The dedicated service of residents on the Board of Education, Planning Board, Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation Commission, Library Board, the many Advisory Committees is vital to our town and I thank them all. Rent Party, Battle of the Bands, Oysterfest, Pride Fest, Wellness Fair, Green Team Events, and more not only make our community great to live in, but often help those less fortunate too. One of those great events, the organizers of which are being honored today, is Maplewoodstock. I thank them and congratulate one of those organizers, my ex-husband Gary Shippy, for his dedicated hard work in growing this into a signature Maplewood event that will no doubt continue for years to come. Congratulations to you and the other Maplewoodstock organizers on this well-deserved honor.
There are many thank-yous that are deserved, but obviously I can’t name all of the people who I’ve learned from, whom through knowing I have grown, and from whose guidance and friendship I have benefitted.
Thank you to Ian Grodman and Garnet Hall for your leadership of the Maplewood Democratic Party and for your advice and counsel to me during the campaigns. I thank all of the volunteers on my campaign committee for their time, talents and help; you all made it fun and I am humbled by your willingness to spend so much time and work toward helping to get me elected. Tom Carlson, I thank you for being an exemplary leader of the Planning Board; it’s been an honor to serve with you for the last 7 years, I’ve learned so much from you and every Planning Board member.
Finally, I thank my family. My grown kids, Maggie, Thomas and Michael Shippy, who have inspired me all these years to do things to help our community and who I miss so much, but who are too far away to be here today. Thanks to my step kids, Kristin and Oscar Renda, who are still growing up here in Maplewood and are becoming responsible, kind and good citizens who make me proud. Thanks to Oscar’s scout troop 60 for being part of the ceremony today. And last but certainly not least, thank you to my best friend, counselor, sounding board, and the one who (tries anyway) to remind me of the filter I’m so bad at having sometimes, my husband Sal Renda. Thank you for everything, everyday.
I look forward to serving on the Township Committee, but I have to admit I am a little nervous. My nerves steady though when I remember that you, my neighbors, will be there with me – because that is how we work in Maplewood. Thank you again for your support and votes, for electing me to serve and for the faith you’ve placed in me. I’m honored to serve and promise to give you all my best in this endeavor.