When Anthony Fasano was a college freshman and contemplating a run on his local Board of Education, he emailed then-Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo on a Friday afternoon.
She called him right back and asked him what he was doing the next morning for breakfast.
Petillo brought bagels to his home and what Fasano was hoping would be a just a five-minute conversation turned into an eight-hour discussion.
“She answered every possible question I had,” said Fasano, now Director of the County Board of Commissioners. “I still, to this day, cannot believe it. I can’t believe she gave me that much time, and I can’t believe we have a mayor like that, and we have a commissioner like that.”
Fast forward 10 years.
Fasano and Petillo have served as commissioners together. Fasano’s impression has not changed, even as Petillo attended her last meeting on April 6, as she retired from public service after 26 years.
“Leaving public office after 26 years brings mixed emotions,” Petillo said. “A sadness as I reflect on my past experiences and anticipation as I enter a new season in my life. Although I was elected to the county commissioner board in 2016, I was not a stranger to the county. As a mayor of Hopatcong, the county became an extension of the borough resources and a lifeline during the Hurricane Sandy. As I served on the commissioner board, I realized the true depth of this organization, and the exceptional staff that do the impossible every day in order to meet the increasing needs of our residents.”
Petillo was elected to the Hopatcong Borough Council in 2004 and was elected as the borough’s first female mayor in 2007. She served nine years as mayor, and was chosen as mayor of the year in 2014.
She was elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders on Nov. 8, 2016, and has served since Jan. 3, 2017.
She also was an active member of the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Families for 18 years and works with the Center for Prevention and Counseling to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Sylvia has been one of our biggest advocates talking about this program everywhere she goes, advocating for it, and letting people be aware of it, and bringing awareness,” said Becky Carlson, executive director of the Center for Prevention and Counseling.
Michelle Borden, chief executive officer of Newbridge Services, representing the Sussex County Mental Health Board also thanked Petillo for her years of service.
Commissioner Herbert Yardley said she treated the county’s Dept. of Health and Human Services like her own child, guarding and protecting it.
“She was active, she would stop into that department many times to check on the activities, things that were happening, and we’ll miss you,” Yardley said.