Khizar Sheikh, Mayor of the Borough, gave this address at the January 2023 Council Reorganization Meeting
Thank you to my fellow Councilmembers Lauren Barnett, Cynthia Korman, Chris Richter, Chris Cannon, and Melissa Muilenberg. Congratulations to Deputy Mayor Barnett on her election tonight. I look forward to working with her and all of our Councilmembers in 2023.
Thank you also to our current and former elected officials and their representatives who are here tonight – I see Kelly Doucette from Congresswoman Sherrill’s office, Senator Joe Pennacchio, Councilwoman DeVenezia from Boonton, former Mountain Lakes’ Councilperson Ellen Emr, and former Morris County Commissioner and Mountain Lakes Mayor Carol J. Rufener.
And thank you to all of you – friends, family, neighbors – for taking the time to attend our reorganization today. An annual tradition that reconstitutes and reaffirms our faith in our town government every year.
I am deeply honored to serve our community. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me, and in us, as your representatives in our hometown of Mountain Lakes – the best place we can call home and raise our families.
Our town is so unique. A tiny town, with state and federal historic designations, a great school system, a strong community spirit and history of volunteerism, with abundant natural resources and opportunities through our lakes and woodlands. These are our crown jewels – our history, our welcoming community, our volunteerism, our natural resources.
We must protect these crown jewels while we move forward in our second century of existence or risk losing them and our uniqueness.
And to do so, we must innovate to counter forces that are making tiny unique towns like ours difficult to maintain.
But we can do it, and we can thrive. Keeping existing traditions and ideas while embracing new traditions and ideas at the same time. So we don’t lose what makes this community special, while embracing the changes necessary to keep our community welcoming and the town of choice for generations to come.
This work and commitment is what binds us together. No one person or group of people have all of the ideas to make us successful. All of us want Mountain Lakes to remain the best place to call home. We must talk, communicate, be open to each other’s viewpoints, assume positive intent, and make the best decisions we can – and not avoid the hard decisions that we must make when it is time to make them. That’s what leaders do. And this town is full of them.
As your representatives, tell us what you need from us and what you would like to see. Make us aware of your concerns and opinions as well as ideas you have for creative solutions. And try and be involved as you can be – it doesn’t matter how: Befriend your neighbors. Share your ideas. Utilize our programs and attend community events. Donate your time, skills, and financial resources, whether as part of the Borough, or schools, or our community organizations such as the Library, nonprofits, sports clubs, religious organizations, and the list can go on.
By working together, by being involved, we can build on the great work of all who came before us and continue to accomplish so much. And have our community remain the best place to call home for us, our children, and our grandchildren.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the people that help us be the best day-in and day-out.
To our Borough Manager Mitchell Stern and his office. Thank you for your commitment to submitting responsible budgets, to getting needed things done, to providing community and recreational opportunities, to providing quality services.
To our Police Chief Sean Bennett and the MLPD. Thank you for your commitment to keeping us safe and all you do for community outreach.
To our Public Works Director Doug Edler and the DPW. Thank you for building, operating, and maintaining our public infrastructure, summer, fall, winter, spring, day and night.
To our Fire Chief Joe Mullaney and the MLFD, including the junior FD. Thank you for keeping us and our community safe from hazards and fire, and giving so much of your time and efforts as dedicated volunteers.
To our Committees, boards, and commission volunteers. None of this would work without each and every one of you and the skills and views you share so generously. You are truly one of our treasured assets. We thank you.
I speak for Council when I say our commitment is passionate and real. We look forward to working with our entire community to ensure our success. I hope everyone joins together in this effort.
Mayor Khizar A. Sheikh