Council Appoints Vanderziel Replacement
Former council member sworn in as replacement for retired member
A familiar face is back on Manchester's Township Council, as a former member has been appointed to fill the seat left open when Kenneth Vanderziel retired in November.
Sam Fusaro, who served 16 years on the council before deciding not to seek reelection in 2006, was sworn in at the governing body's Dec. 12 meeting.
"It's especially meaningful to me," Fusaro, 59, said during his council report. "I was first elected along councilman Vanderziel in 1990 and we worked together for more time than I care to admit to, but Ken was a superior council member to this body and I hope to continue that."
Council President Craig Wallis called Fusaro "one of the smartest guys I've seen."
"I know Sam is going to do a great job," Wallis said. "He's very smart and an honest man."
Fusaro said that he decided not to seek reelection in 2006 because, in addition to his work schedule, it had become too demanding. Applying for the recent vacancy was a matter of timing, said Fusaro, who has lived in the township since 1985.
He retired from United States Army duty in April of 2010 when Fort Monmouth operations were shifted to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Now, he has the time needed to serve on the council.
"I always enjoyed the duties of council," Fusaro said. "It's a position where, in a very short time, you can see things happen, make things happen."
Fusaro said that he was involved in creating the current Little League fields for the township in 1992 and was able to secure Green Acres Program funds to make improvements to Harry Wright Park, Pine Lake Park and other facilities.
During his time in Manchester government, Fusaro once served as council president, had a stint as a planning board member and was on the now-defunct recreation committee.
Spending time in the township at both a younger and now older age brings perspective that Fusaro said should be useful in governing.
"I've lived in Manchester almost 30 years," Fusaro said. "I think having brought up my family in Manchester, I can understand the younger residents who have concern for their children and developments...but now that I'm retired, I can also understand better the realities of the senior residents in our town. I think that's needed in a council member."
Council attorney Steven Secare said that, while residents may take issue with how local government operates, only four were willing to apply for the vacancy left by Vanderziel.
"I've been sitting in this chair for 20 years and it amazes me that people criticize what the council does, but not that many people want to stand up," he said. "Sam stepped up to the plate."
The current council members individually interviewed the candidates in November, confidentially ranked them from 1 to 4, and gave their list to the township clerk to independently determine which applicant was regarded the highest, Wallis said.
"I asked nobody my opinion and nobody asked me my opinion," Wallis said.
Vanderziel served on the Manchester Township Council from 1990 to 2002, and then took time away from the governing body. He returned to the council on July 1, 2004, also serving three years as council president.
"I'm going to say goodbye, good luck and I look forward to hearing about the good things that go on here," said Vanderziel, 88, at his final council meeting on Nov. 29.