Middletown breaks ground on veterans' affordable housing
Richard Kolber, Middletown Housing Authority Board of Commissioners chairman, discusses housing for veterans on Oct. 12, 2021.
Asbury Park Press
MIDDLETOWN -Tony Perry has secured a fourth consecutive year as mayor, and hasannounced new initiatives to support local students and to deal with damaged or foreclosed "zombie" properties in town.
Perry's most recent appointment will make him the longest consecutive serving mayor in more thanhalf a century. Hewas sworn in to his new committee term and selected as mayor at the township's reorganization meeting Sunday, held at the township's new municipal building, which is still under construction.
"I am very humbled to have been sworn in this morning as mayorfor 2022," Perry, 31, saidSunday afternoon. "It has been the honor of my life to serve the residents of this great town and I look forward to all this new year brings."
Perry said the Township Committee and Board of Education will be meeting to hammer out a "next generation support program" for students in town, be they enrolled in district schools or anywhere else.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly demonstrated the ability to virtually learn, but it has also demonstrated that not everybody is going to thrive in that virtual learning experience," Perry said in a phone interview Monday.
The program will set students up with tutors and connect them and their parents with mental health support if and when they need it, as well as educate students on the hazards of drugs, alcohol and social media,Perry said.
The township will also put pressure on property owners, insurance companies and financial institutions that drag their feet on fixing or demolishing damaged homes, or "zombie properties," Perry said.
Related: Perry spent less than half of his 6-figure reelection war chest
Perry is the first mayor toserve four consecutive years since Ernest G. Kavelek, who sat from 1965-1968, according to township spokeswoman Tara Berson, although other mayors have sat for longer terms.
The Township Committee's five members serve staggered three-year terms and select one of their own number as mayor and deputyeach year. Committeeman Rick Hibell was selected as deputy mayorSunday for the second year running. All five current Township Committee members are Republicans, a monopoly that has stood for 11 years.
Related: Perry, Kratz run on fiscal responsibility
Perry is a public relations manager for Hackensack Meridian Health's Riverview and Bayshore medical centers in Red Bank and Holmdel, respectively. He sat on the Middletown Planning Board and Middletown Township Library Board for two years beginning in 2015. Hewas first appointed to the Township Committee in 2017 to fill a vacancy and won his first full term the following year in November 2018. He was first seated as mayor in January 2019.
Perry cruised to reelection to the Township Committee in November, beating Democrat Rocky Rios 18,892 votes to 9,053, or more than a two-to-one margin. His running mate, Kimberly Kratz, won by a similar margin after it came to light that her opponent, NicholasBabcock, had faced theft and forgery charges in Arizona nearly two decades ago.
Alex N. Gecan covers local news and unsolved mysteries for the Asbury Park Press. You can reach him at 732-547-1365 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @GeeksterTweets.
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Middletown Mayor Tony Perry takes office for fourth consecutive year - Asbury Park Press
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