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The first 100 days of my administration have been busy, exciting, rewarding and productive. While the work continues, I wanted to recap some of the promises kept as we reach this milestone and highlight some of the progress made in this short time.
Throughout my campaign, I pledged to serve as a full time mayor because, based on my business experience, I believe our residents and businesses deserve someone with a sole focus on Cherry Hill.
In just the first one hundred days, we held over two hundred meetings on issues important to Cherry Hill residents and businesses. Those meetings included conversations with our police and fire chiefs, as well as with our religious, civic and athletic leaders.
During these first 100 days, myself, members of the council and township administrators have attended more than fifty events around the township, including gatherings hosted by many of our civic and community organizations.
While attending each event, I have heard feedback and suggestions from both residents and businesses alike about ways to improve the Cherry Hill community.
From the campaign trail to taking the oath as mayor, I promised to conduct a line-by-line examination of the budget, reassess township departments and review the way our government conducts business in an effort to identify potential savings. That budgetary review, a long and in-depth process, is well underway and has already sparked initial changes. In the coming months, we will continue to develop ways that Cherry Hill can change government and identify potential savings.
As a crucial part of this financial review, the administration identified areas for increased streamlining of our operations to provide better service to residents and businesses alike. The first step in streamlining took place when the township council took action to combine our planning, zoning and construction departments under the departmental umbrella of community development.
We have already received extremely positive feedback in response to this change.
We also pursued greater diversity and increased representation on the township’s planning and zoning boards, along with our municipal prosecutors.
I have also expanded our efforts to aggressively identify and pursue alternative funding sources and offset expenses. I am proud to report that Cherry Hill has applied for over $700,000 in grant monies, and we continue to pursue every opportunity for additional funding.
Of that, we have already been approved to receive over $320,000 to assist with community development, public safety, public works and recreation activities. In addition, the township explored various shared service opportunities with the county and neighboring towns.
Throughout the mayoral campaign, I reiterated the importance of improving the relationship between the township and Cherry Hill Public Schools. Superintendent Reusche and I have already built a strong relationship, engaging in monthly meetings and regular events together. We have begun to explore opportunities for the township to provide support to our schools through additional shared service agreements.
The open communication has allowed Reusche and me the opportunity to work closely to ensure Cherry Hill’s funding continues to go to our public schools. I held meetings with elected officials in Trenton, where I advocated for legislation to provide local approval before a charter school could open in a municipality. Along with improving our relationship, I have had the pleasure of visiting most of our schools to talk with students and with our PTAs.
I have been vocal about increasing transparency and expanding communications throughout the township.
Through our newly redesigned website, visitors can easily find bids, agendas, board members, resolutions, proclamations, ordinances, events, and even my public schedule. In our newest attempt to improve communication, the township joined in a shared service with Camden County to utilize a Reverse 9-1-1 system.
We have also expanded our social media usage and enhanced electronic communications including the mayor’s weekly email.
I also promised to expand participation in our government with new initiatives. I promoted the establishment of the citizens and business councils to increase community leadership and involvement. We are about to hold our first citizen’s cabinet meeting, which saw an overwhelming response from residents looking to get involved. We are now in the process of creating a business council, to develop an incubator for collaboration between the township and local business leaders. We are also preparing to launch the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, to improve the health, wellness, and safety of the entire community.
While we have already fulfilled many promises and started to make progress, there is still a long road ahead, with many more stops along the way. I hope you will continue to provide your suggestions and assistance as we make decisions to determine the future of our township. Thank you for allowing me to serve as mayor of this great town.