MAYOR VALLONE'S FAREWELL ADDRESS
Below is the Mayor's Address given at the July 11, 2022 Borough Council meeting.
Good evening everyone, dear neighbors, and friends:
As has been customary over the last eleven and a half years, I usually give a report of salient and poignant issues that affect Far Hills and its residents at this time.
But tonight, I have something else to share with you. Last week, I notified our Borough Attorney, Joseph Sordillo and members of the Borough Council that tonight will be the last Borough Council meeting over which I will preside and effective July 15, 2022, I will be resigning my position as Mayor of the Borough of Far Hills. As many of you know, my wife Janis has been dealing with some health issues involving cancer and while we are very optimistic that her long-term future will be bright, it is time that I must devote my time and energies towards that end.
I want to thank Janis for supporting me during my 25 years of my plastic surgery practice where her knowledge, business skills, acumen and vision allowed us to grow a very significant medical practice. During my last eleven and a half years, she has supported me as Mayor and has spent many nights alone as I was either at meetings or advocating on behalf of Far Hills. I am truly grateful for her love and support over these many years.
I started my public service to Far Hills as a member of the Board of Health fifteen years ago, then served on the Planning Board and finally in 2011 was elected Mayor of Far Hills with 92% of all votes cast. When I took over as Mayor of Far Hills my goals were to improve its financial condition, maintain and improve its structural condition, to foster a harmonious and family friendly environment and to continue the bucolic nature of our Borough and to make Far Hills a place where all residents would be proud to live, work and play.
Over these eleven and a half years, I have increased our Borough savings substantially, which now helps to offset our municipal taxes and have paid off all old debt. I have kept our tax rate very low as our municipal tax rate is in the lowest five percent in the State of New Jersey of any municipalities where any public services are provided. I have encouraged our employees in all departments and built a wonderful and effective administrative staff under our Borough Clerk, Dorothy Hicks, and have given our staff the tools, i.e., new computers, servers, and programs that they needed to fully support our residents and help streamline their daily responsibilities. I have helped rebuild our Police Department under the leadership of Chief Michael DeCarolis into one of the most respected departments anywhere in the State of New Jersey. I am very proud of what Chief DeCarolis has accomplished and how he and his team support our residents. I have supported an infrastructure program to repave and repair one to two roads every year over the last twelve years. I have supported changes and implemented them at the Planning Board level so that the Board now knows who is applying for variances and who owns the businesses located in our Borough, something that did not exist before and is vitally important for safety when fire and electrical issues develop.
I have supported the VNA and the good work they do and the Far Hills Race Meet Association and have dramatically increased the financial benefits that come to the Borough from these events which directly benefits our residents’ taxes. I have built over the years a relationship with the CEOs of these organizations which has been beneficial to all our residents and I am proud to call Dan Powell and the Chairs of the Far Hills Race Meet Association my friends.
As you have previously heard, Janis Vallone who earlier this year resurrected the Recreation Committee, which had been dormant for many years, and has reinvigorated that committee as its Chairwoman and monies have been placed in the budget to enhance the Fairgrounds and those results are already clearly evident.
I, with others have worked tirelessly to comply with the responsibilities of Affordable Housing requirements that have been thrust upon communities by the NJ Supreme Court which alone has taken hundreds of hours and innumerable meetings. During my tenure, I have gone to the homes of multiple residents during Super Storm Sandy to assist them in their time of need and over the years have gone to many of our resident’s homes to personally address their concerns and issues.
Over the last many years, I have joined and have been appointed to the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors and attend their meetings regularly in Princeton. I am also on the Legislative Committee of the oldest multi-political group in the Country, the New Jersey League of Municipalities and attend and chaired meetings and break-out session at their annual conference held in November. Why, because the information that is shared and learned, along with the contacts made, and the input from many professionals around the State of New Jersey benefits our residents here and in Far Hills, and this is what needs to be done going forward.
While the Borough of Far Hills employs many professionals such as our Borough Attorney, our Planner and Engineer to give advice and they work diligently for the Borough, they are not elected officials. They do not live in Far Hills and it is ultimately the responsibility of the Mayor and Council to be fully informed, to be able to have the answers and provide our residents with the information requested and to make the final decisions that affect all of our residents. The Mayor and Council must be on the cutting edge of issues that affect our residents and they must be proactive, not reactive, they must be engaged at the local level and build relationships with our local neighboring municipalities, as well as the county and state level, this is not a part-time job, being the mayor is a full-time job.
To simply say “that is why we have professionals” is short sighted and not the hallmark of a leader, but rather the hallmark of a follower which is not what Far Hills needs.
To those who come after me, remember that Far Hills is special, it is recognized in national publications as one of the most prosperous and affluent communities in the country, actually number 12 out of some 42,000 communities; it is no wonder that while we have 360 or so families, we have over 1200 P.O. Boxes used by businesses and individuals who covet the Far Hills address. Far Hills can never be allowed to become average, that simply is not good enough. The open spaces, the equestrian tradition, the verdant trees, scenic corridors and stately properties and homes in all areas of Far Hills and the Victorian style homes in the town must be maintained. We must not let developers go unchecked as is happening all around us, remember change for the sake of change alone is not always good.
I remember, many years ago, a very prominent surgeon friend of mine said to me that “when you make something look easy, everyone thinks they can do it, until they try.”
Running Far Hills has required innumerable meetings, time away from family and meeting and establishing long term relationships in Trenton and the County with Governors, members of the Senate and Assembly, lawyers, and other Mayors. For those who think that you can simply pick up the phone and call for help, you are sadly mistaken, relationships must be developed over time as any good friendship is. It has required many, many rubber chicken dinners and most importantly, it requires a vision that Far Hills is special. I sincerely hope that it stays that way in years to come.
To those on the Council and Councils past, to the professionals and to the residents of Far Hills, I thank you for your support over these many years. I have done my very best to keep Far Hills special. I specifically want to thank Councilwoman Sheila Tweedie, Councilman Joseph Carty and Councilwoman Mary Chimenti and many dozens of others for their concern and compassion towards my wife Janis. I will always remember this; I will also not forget those who did not personally reach out to her.
Janis and I will continue to maintain our home here in Far Hills and I look forward to seeing you all in the years to come.
May God bless us all, and may God bless the United States of America and may Far Hills find its way in the future.
Thank you to all.
Paul J. Vallone, MD