Committeeman Joseph Belasco placed his left hand on the bible and held his right hand in the air as he took the oath of office for chairman of the township committee, officially beginning his one-year term as mayor of Hazlet.
After being sworn in, Belasco hugged his family members, shook hands with his fellow committee members and turned to address the packed room in the Hazlet Township Municipal Building.
Belasco envisions a Hazlet where his young grandchildren will group up one day to be proud Hazlet residents.
"Did you see the group that was up with me before? Did you see the children up there? They call me Pop-Pop. And I want to make Hazlet a town that in twenty-five years, God-willing I'm still here, they can say that they're a resident of Hazlet, that they were able to stay here and live here because that's what it's all about," he said.
During his address, Belasco explained that achieving that goal includes improving quality of life issues in Hazlet such as poor road conditions. None of it will be possible, he emphasized, without the committee - which contains three democrats and two republicans - band together as residents and not as politicians.
"What Sandy showed us it that the people of Hazlet were brought together for a common purpose. We went into Union Beach; We went into Keyport; We took the needy, we took the people that needed to be helped," he said. "It was an amazing feet and through all that time no one heard the word 'democrat' or 'republican.' They were just people working together."
James DiNardo, who was also sworn in as a committee member Saturday, was selected by the five-member committee to serve as deputy mayor. DiNardo echoed Belasco's sentiment and thanked the public for their support.
The next meeting of the Hazlet Committee will be held on Jan. 14.