A resolution was on the agenda at Tuesday night’s Montclair Township council meeting, to designate Fourth Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville as Deputy Mayor, effective July 1. Councilors have rotated through the position, with Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller being the latest to hold the honorary title.
Instead of the resolution being heard, however, Mayor Jackson, after the council came out of executive session, asked the council if there were any nominations for the deputy mayor position.
Baskerville was surprised when Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller nominated Councilor-At-Large Rich McMahon and First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock seconded the nomination.
A roll call quickly followed, with Spiller, Hurlock and McMahon all voting yes. Baskerville and Councilwoman Robin Schlager voted no; and Councilman Bob Russo and Jackson abstained.
McMahon had the votes and was named the next deputy mayor, but Baskerville immediately voiced her displeasure, addressing the council.
“I am extremely hurt and disappointed,” said Baskerville, describing how she had been led on to believe her colleagues would support her.
She stated that when they had decided to run together as a slate in 2016, they discussed rotating through the deputy mayor position, by ward order. First Ward Councilor Hurlock had served as deputy mayor the first year of the four year term, followed by Second Ward Councilor Schlager and Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller.
Baskerville said all along she had been told she would be next and that she felt she had the support of all her colleagues.
“I’m concerned about the character of some of the people I work with. I feel like I’ve been betrayed.”
“I’ll go home tonight and I will cry because I am hurt, but they will have to live with what they did, that they just lied, bold-faced lied to me time and time again,” Baskerville said.
Councilor Hurlock responded by saying he would not address “the numerous false, and self-serving remarks that were made with regards to myself,” adding that this was “not how I operate.” Hurlock ended by saying he “would not engage at this level.”
Councilor Russo then tried to explain that he supported Baskerville and that’s why he abstained from voting for McMahon, but Baskerville called him out, asking him why he then didn’t just vote no.
McMahon will serve as deputy mayor through the last year of this council, before the elections for town council take place in May 2020.
The deputy mayor acts in place of the mayor in the event of his/her absence, disability or illness. The deputy mayor may also officiate weddings. The deputy mayor cannot make appointments or succeed the mayor should that office become vacant.
Discussion of deputy mayor position takes place at 3:42:08.