Teets elected Newton mayor, Couce deputy mayor

NEWTON. Three council members are sworn in to new four-year terms.

Newton /
| 08 Jan 2023 | 09:51

Michelle Teets was elected mayor and John-Paul Couce deputy mayor during the Town Council’s annual reorganization meeting Thursday, Jan. 5.

They will serve in those posts until Dec. 31, 2024.

Council members Matthew Dickson, Sandra Lee Diglio and Helen Le Frois were sworn in to new four-year terms by Municipal Court Judge James Sloan.

They defeated five other candidates - Ludmilla Mecaj, Margaret Baldini, Earl Schick III, David Restrepo and Paola Armas-Gonzalez - in the Nov. 8 election.

Teets, who was deputy mayor last year, said many new businesses opened in 2022, “we had a successful pool season, a lot of great parades and events, movies in the park, music in the park.”

”We have all of that and so much more planned for the coming year.”

She thanked her colleagues as well as Town Manager Thomas Russo Jr.; the municipal employees, professionals and volunteers; and her husband and nephew.

”I look forward to all of us, including all the citizens and employees and volunteers of the town, to continue working together for that success.”

She recognized former Mayor Jason Schlaffer “for setting the bar high for myself and for also mentoring me.”

Couce pointed out that Newton’s employees are the ones who make sure that the streets are safe, plow the roads and respond to residents with a raccoon in their basement.

”We’re here for you. I’m here to serve you. I’m here to make sure that your job is able to be completed, and if there’s a reason that it can’t be, we need to know about that so we can fix that.”

Diglio, who is beginning her fourth term, thanked the voters. “I consider it an honor serving you and listening to you and doing the best that I can do on this council to help you.”

Le Frois also thanked the voters for electing her to a third term.

“I continue to be excited for Newton’s future,” she said, citing a number of recent awards for the town and local businesses and professionals from the Sussex County Economic Development Partnership. “That recognition represents hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs in the town and the county as well as increased ratables and smart growth.

“I’m confident that more recognition of our collective efforts is in our future.”

She plans to work with council members and town employees and volunteers “to see our last few redevelopment projects come to fruition.”

“We will continue to be innovative, visionary and proactive in the promotion of our great town outside of our borders and we will make decisions from the perspective of what’s best for our residents and our taxpayers.”

Dickson said he was honored to be sworn in for a second term. “I believe we made great progress during my first term on council and I look forward to continuing this progress.”

He pointed out that the council has a female majority for the first time in about 10 years.

Russo said Newton is applying for a $75,000 grant for handicapped-accessible playground equipment for Pine Street Park. The town would have to provide an additional $25,000.

Diglio, the council’s liaison to the school board, said she attended that board’s reorganization meeting Jan. 3, when Stella Dunn was elected president and Ray Morris vice president.

The superintendent was asked to investigate possible solutions to issues with the district’s facilities, she said.