The following comments were delivered by Maplewood Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis at the January 1, 2021 Maplewood Township Reorganization Meeting upon his swearing-in for his second three-year term on the Maplewood Township Committee and embarking on his second year as Deputy Mayor.
It was thrilling and deeply moving to be sworn in by the incomparable Township Clerk Liz Fritzen and the Honorable and my running mate Vic De Luca this morning. I’m honored and grateful.
My deepest and foremost gratitude goes to Maplewood residents all across town, all your hardworking, engaged, civic minded, working families – young and old, new to town or born and raised here – Thank YOU for your broad, strong and fulsome support, your faith and trust in me.
What you can expect from me in the next three years is what you’ve grown accustomed to already from me – dedication, hard work ethic, integrity, empathy, loyalty, accessibility, enthusiasm, and creativity. I will remain your advocate – I am after all a community advocate – and this is about YOU, about US together, not me.
To you my fellow electeds, I thank you for your support. I’m proud of our work together, especially this past most-challenging year when we proved yet again that local government can and should be the most direct and impactful source of good in people’s everyday lives, more so than any other level of government. We are truly essential and front line, we can and have made a difference. I will remain collaborative and loyal to you. Two special mentions of gratitude, I’d like to make are to my running mate, Vic De Luca, who I congratulate on his being sworn into his 8th term in local office – truly incredible – he remains tireless and influential, a mentor and role model, truly inspiring to the rest of us and especially to me. And, to our Mayor – my brother from another mother, Frank McGehee – who has not only proved worthy of sitting in the Chair, but effortless and commanding in leading us through an unforeseen global pandemic with confidence, clarity, and calm. I have no doubt he will likewise carry us through the vaccination rollout in the same manner. Great job, my friend!
Of course, we can’t do what we do without our incredible employees, they are the backbone of our township, they are the ones who make us look good. I’m extremely grateful to them and very proud of their staying on course and not missing a step during COVID, keeping the exceptional and professional services our residents have come accustomed to flowing and uninterrupted. Special recognition certainly goes to our public health team who have been on the frontline navigating us through the complex and constantly evolving moments of the pandemic — the directives, testing, and now the vaccination rollout – keeping us safe, and absorbing all the pain of saying goodbye to the residents we lost. Candice [Davenport] and Anna [Markarova], you’ve exemplified strength and grace throughout this, and I’m so proud of our moving you into your own department as you’ve shown that public health is overarching, intersecting with all departments and services – health and wellness at the core of everything that we do. To our Township Clerk Liz Fritzen who led us through an unusual election and all of the COVID-related rules, permits, licenses, ….you’re amazing Liz Fritzen!
Finally, but not least Assistant Township Administrator Glenn Michalowski, who has worked in the shadows and truly under-appreciated, he is the glue that has held everything together the past couple of years, the demands on him vast, his work ethic unparalleled and his smarts sharp, Glenn you’ve been a wonder, thank you for the support in IT, enhanced public communications and engagement, in all of our boards and committees.
The amount of work you have accomplished is astounding, you have truly risen to the occasion.
In closing, I want to end by saying that I simply really enjoy doing this! I don’t have children, so
all of you out there are family to me, I feel the responsibility of care and service to you very deeply. It’s been a remarkable and rewarding three years, we got a lot done quickly, I’m proud to have led a lot of that, and I look forward to the next three years when I will continue to focus on greater equity, better government, best customer service, and policy or practice, that not only meets needs, but which successfully propel us forward with cultural competency.
Happy New Year to all, in good Health! Let’s get vaccinated and turn a corner!