Back in town hall
It was a pleasant sight on April 26: the town council returned to town hall for their first in-person meeting since October 26, 2020.
Once again, the council chamber was open to the council and the public (socially distanced) and the town’s business was conducted in public rather than on the small boxes of a Zoom meeting.
It was a night that was charged with emotion, particularly when Hammonton First Councilman William Olivo, who had strongly advocated for a new town hall at the Central Avenue and Vine Street location when he was a Republican member of council in the early-2000s, took his seat in the new town hall that had been built at that location several years later.
Now the town hall, just a dream when he last sat on the council, was a reality when he returned in person.
In recent years, there has been much talk of the value of consolidation. Hammonton has always been a strong proponent of home rule, of not having the gap between the governed and the government as well as government leaders grow too wide. The town hall at Central Avenue and Vine Street is a symbol of what local people can do when they are in control of their own tax dollars. Town hall may not be the only example of the bond between Hammontonians, local government and the local governing body, but it certainly is one of the largest and most prominent examples.
Now that the council has returned to town hall, we hope transparency will be raised to new heights. We hope the mayor and the other members of the council will always put the public’s needs ahead of their own. We hope that there is no reason to leave the council chambers in the coming months.
A final note: A majority of council members chose not to wear masks during the meeting, although some non-elected town officials did leave theirs on during the proceedings. The Gazette’s feeling is that the council should set an example for others while sitting in a public building during a televised meeting and wear the masks. After all, if anyone from the public who enters town hall must wear a mask, our elected and appointed officials should do so during their meetings as well.