Portraits of past mayors adorned the walls, pride-filled families filled the room, and miniature American flags were offered to all who attended – that was the setting of Cedar Grove’s annual reorganization meeting where E. Romeo Longo and Joseph Chiusolo were sworn into their new roles.
The first of July has, for decades, been the day for the Cedar Grove Township Council to officially appoint its new mayor and deputy mayor for a traditional year-long term.
This year, both Longo and Chiusolo were sworn in by their most honored guests; their family.
Longo, who until recently was the township’s deputy mayor, had his niece Vikki Ziegler swear him into his mayoral position. (Ziegler is a matrimonial law and civil litigation attorney from Livingston. She currently stars on a Bravo TV network series, Untying the Knot.)
Though this year is Longo’s third non-consecutive term as mayor, he said he approaches the position with humility and grace as he is focused not on the title, but on the responsibility that comes with it. “We are a council that’s dedicated to nothing other than the betterment of Cedar Grove,” Longo said.
The long-time Cedar Grove resident was first elected to the council in 1995.
Since then, he served as mayor of the township from 1997 to 1998 and again from 2006 to 2007.
Now preparing to serve again, Longo made a point to credit the rest of the council, which has as much power and say-so as the mayor. On the council, the mayor is one of five votes, acting fully as a democracy, according to former mayor Robert O’Toole.
Longo also took time during the July 1 reorganization meeting to show that he had complete confidence in the township’s democratic tradition. “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much,” Longo said as he thanked the council and expressed his eagerness to continue to work with them for the remainder of his term.
Chiusolo followed suit, choosing to be sworn in by his friend, Judge Nicholas Brindisi, and his 20-year-old daughter, Danielle Chiusolo.
“My love, Danielle, my daughter, who actually was here when she was 2-years-old at my first swearing in,” Chiusolo said. “It’s been truly a pleasure.”
Chiusolo was first elected for a four-year term on the council in 1997. And like Longo, he was selected as its mayor three times from the years 2000 to 2001, 2004 to 2005, and 2009 to 2010.
Throughout the meeting, speeches were heard and thank-you’s expressed, but the night did not end without both Longo and Chiusolo crediting O’Toole for his past year of service.
“I’d like to applaud Mayor O’Toole,” Chiusolo said. “I’ve said many times that you’re probably the hardest working human being I’ve ever known, and the most ethical.”
The meeting went onto mention the accomplishments of the council and O’Toole for the work they’ve done together. “It’s amazing what can be done when no one cares about who gets the credit,” O’Toole said.
In closing, Longo accepted his mayoral role by referencing O’Toole’s commitment to the township and volunteerism, saying, “Bob is a person who when you call him doesn’t ask ‘what do you want,’ but ‘what can I do,’ and he is a benchmark for all of us to aspire to.”