Councilwoman DiGiulio: Running For Mayor After Witnessing "Most Horrific Council Meeting"
DiGiulio says decision to run influenced by approval of ordinance changes to allow for new shopping center
Mahwah Councilwoman Lisa DiGiulio, who announced her intention to run for the township’s mayor this November Sunday night, says the town council’s decision to approve rezoning ordinances to allow for a shopping center near the Sheraton Hotel on Route 17 had a lot to do with her decision to run.
“I witnessed the most horrific council meeting that I’ve ever attended,” DiGiulio said of the March 31 meeting in which she and Councilman John Spiech voted against the ordinance changes. Four council members voted in favor of the changes, which allow for the building of the proposed Crossroads Town Center.
“It’s not even whether or not it would have won. I just think it was handled incorrectly and I was embarrassed. A non-binding referendum would have shown people that we respect what they think,” DiGiulio told Patch.
Thus far, the councilwoman is the only candidate to announce her intentions to run in the election this November. Whoever is elected will finish the duration of the term originally held by Mayor Richard Martel, who died this March. The term will run through November 2012.
Though DiGiulio says she believes the Crossroads Town Center would be “a disaster” for many people in Mahwah, she says since the decision was approved by the Council and signed, she would not be able to reverse the decision if elected.
“The next step is planning it. I’m upset about how this was carried out so far, and I want to make sure it’s planned correctly,” she said.
“I don’t know much about the lawsuits filed against the township, but if they are viable they might be the only way to actually reverse the decision.”
Two lawsuits, one filed by the neighboring village of Suffern, NY and the other by a group of Mahwah residents, were filed against the township last month in an effort to nullify the council's decision.
DiGiulio, who has been on the Mahwah Town Council for 23 years, says she began her political career in Trenton, becoming involved with the Mt. Laurel movement for affordable housing.
“I went to Trenton as a housewife with a briefcase, a change of clothes and a speech,” DiGiulio, who said she moved on to working with now- State Senator Gerald Cardinale on several initiatives including the original COAH and bringing the D.A.R.E. Program from California to New Jersey, said.
DiGiulio released a statement with her intentions to run for Mayor to Patch shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday night. Her message to Mahwah residents was brief:
"I have been your council woman for 23 years and I have seen many changes in Mahwah over the years, both good and bad. However, at this point I feel that the people are not being heard and the town is not going in the right direction. This is your town and your wishes should be heard and respected. I am going to run for mayor in the November election and I am asking for your support," the release said.