Mayor James P. Dodd
Town of Dover
37 North Sussex Street
Dover, NJ 07801
Tel.: (973) 366-2200 ext. 1144
Message to Residents:
2019 Mayor's Town Address
My Fellow Residents and Friends: Good evening and Happy New Year!
I want to thank the public officials from the state and the county who have joined us tonight Senator Anthony Bucco, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, Prosecutor Fredric Knapp, Sheriff James Gannon, Freeholder Director Douglas Cabana, Freeholder Heather Darling, and former Aldermen Jack Delaney & Scott Miller; members of the clergy Father Rod Perez, Pastor Lionel Robles, Pastor Luis Carrasquillo; Honorable Cecilia Guzman; members of the Board of Aldermen who have been partners in everything we do; fellow members of my administration; and, most importantly, the residents of this great town.
I would like to congratulate Alderwoman Blackman on continuing her public service to the Town and I would like to congratulate Alderwoman Wittner, Alderman Quinones and Alderman Valencia on joining the Board of Aldermen. I look forward to hearing your ideas on how to continue to improve the Town of Dover and the lives of its residents.
It is my humble honor to serve as your Mayor and to preside over this Board as we celebrate our progress and reaffirm our commitments to our residents, our Town and one another.
My story is one that is very similar to most of yours. I was born and raised in Dover by two loving parents. Both of my parents worked full time to make ends meet. My father worked as a welder and my mother as a manager at East Dover School. My brothers and sister and I were provided exactly what we needed, not always what we wanted. In many cases, my parents did the very best they could with what they had. We were the true definition of working class – the very class that is considered the backbone of America and the class that comprises the vast majority of the residents of the town of Dover – both back then and today. We were taught the values of love, honesty, hard work, compassion, integrity, dedication and pride in our country and community. We were the epitome of the American Dream and Dover was the stage where our dreams played out on a daily basis. The Dodd family realized, like many first, second and third generation Americans, that through these shared values the sky was the limit towards a better life. I entered the workforce as an automotive technician at the age of 14 and after graduating Dover High School I entered pipefitters Local Union 274 out of Jersey City as an apprentice. I completed a 5 year apprenticeship program and worked my way up to running large-scale construction projects throughout the state of New Jersey. I’m proud to say today that after 37 years I am still a Union card carrying brother of Local 274.
Dover is where I started a family and raised two beautiful children, both of whom attended Dover Public Schools and Dover is still where my children call home when they come home on weekends and breaks from their respective universities – Kyla from Rutgers and James from NJIT.
Dover is also where I started a successful business from the ground up through tireless effort, honesty, integrity and humility. I am honored to have lived my entire life here in Dover. I love this Town and continually return to these values every time I am faced with making a decision as your Mayor.
In today’s America and even in today’s Dover, the inclination is to draw stark contrast between all of our differences. You will hear people say ‘he can’t represent you because he’s Anglo and you’re Latino.’ You might hear people say that my interests are different than yours simply because I am a different race or ethnicity. The danger in that flawed thinking is that it divides us rather than unites us. The truth of the matter is that we are more alike than not. We are all here to better ourselves in a loving environment that creates opportunity for those who work hard for it. The ties that bind us together are much stronger than those that divide us. The formula is simple: as your Mayor I have committed to representing you no matter what your race, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. I pledge to continue to do that as long as I am your Mayor.
2019 marks the commencement of my 14th year as your Mayor and my 23rd year in public service. As a lifelong resident, born and raised, I have had a front row seat in watching Dover grow, change and continually reinvent itself. I first entered public service in 2006. My journey began because I believed that the Dover that existed at that time was far from reaching its potential. I believed we could do better. I also believed that I had the willingness to serve the Town and its residents. From that day forward, I took an oath to serve the Town and its residents. My decision making process has always been a clear one - If the act benefits the Town and its residents, I will support it and do everything in my power to make it happen. Sometimes, the decisions have not been popular, but that’s what a strong leader has to do sometimes.
And on that note, I want to acknowledge and thank our valued Town officials who work tirelessly to bring that vision into a reality for the residents of this Town: Town Administrator Don Travisano, Department Directors, Town Attorney, Municipal Clerk Tara Pettoni, Representatives from the Police and Fire Service and all Town Employees.
I would also like to thank the community partners who are integral to the Town’s work. Nonprofits, clergy, civic leaders -- many of you we work with on a weekly if not daily basis, and we appreciate your dedication and service to our Town.
Sometimes, a State of the Town address is an opportunity for celebration. Tonight, we work. Because our Town’s future will be set by those coming together to build community and create opportunity, not by those who are out to destroy it.
Recently, a study was conducted that shows the most common themes discussed during state of the city addresses. The four topics discussed heads and shoulders above the rest are budgets, economic development/redevelopment, infrastructure and public safety. Not coincidentally, these four categories have been the hallmark of my Mayoral agenda for the past 13 years and will continue as the most important issues facing this great Town in 2019 and beyond.
For my thirteenth consecutive year as Mayor, this Administration has delivered a balanced budget, compliant with all statutory caps, with increased municipal services. Dover continues to lead Morris County with the lowest taxes of any full service community and its Standard & Poor's 'AA' credit rating was reaffirmed.
Our pledge to the residents of Dover is that this financial outlook will continue in 2019 and beyond.
Economic Development and Redevelopment have always been priorities for my administration. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that redevelopment is bad. Don’t let anyone insult your intelligence by telling you that redevelopment is anti-hispanic. Don’t let anyone tell you that redevelopment will push you out of town and make it less affordable. These are inaccurate fear tactics. I refuse to engage in identity politics. These politics are what will keep Dover’s growth stunted and what will limit the availability of Dover’s progress to the few. The fact is redevelopment contributes mightily to our tax base. It keeps our taxes low. It allows us to expand recreation programs and community initiatives available to ALL of our residents. Redevelopment projects contribute short term and permanent jobs to our community; jobs that are earmarked for our residents. Our commitment towards Economic revitalization has never been stronger. It’s undisputed that a rising tide lifts ALL boats. The accomplishments of the last several years are all around us:
In place of an abandoned landfill:
- Two extended stay hotels also paying a hotel tax to the town;
- A Fed Ex distribution Center; and
- A Cube Smart storage facility.
Instead of an ugly dilapidated factory in the middle of a residential area:
- An impressive project at Guenther Mill.
In our vibrant downtown area:
- Meridia Transit Plaza;
- Pennrose Dover Veterans Affordable Housing Project;
- Meridia Dover Business College;
- A new development on the Harry Loory Furniture Property; and
coming in 2019, a new town hall to anchor our downtown area. A town hall that adequately serves our employees from a space utilization perspective, but more importantly, a town hall that exceeds your expectations, where you no longer have to walk to various buildings to conduct your business.
In addition to these Redevelopment efforts, in 2018 and 2019, the Town completed and implemented numerous Capital Improvement Projects, road reconstruction and paving projects. These projects include:
- 2018 Small Cities – First Street, Second Street and Byram Avenue Roadway Improvements
- Blackwell Street Paving
- Salem Street Paving
- Warren, Sussex and Bassett Highway Street Lighting and Streetscape Improvement Project
- Warren, Sussex and Bassett Highway Holiday Decorations
- Rutgers Street Bridge Replacement Project
- North Bergen Street Roadway Reconstruction Project
Finally, I challenge you to identify an elite highly functioning municipality in the State of New Jersey that has a dysfunctional Public Safety Operation. The Dover of today has seen a sharp reduction in violent crime and continued decline in petty disorderly incidents. Our police department enjoys a better relationship with our residents neighboring agencies and critical partners. I am proud to report that under the tutelage of PSD Dan DeGroot and Chief Anthony Smith, the Town of Dover sports one of the premier police departments in Morris County. Beyond being one of the best-supplied agencies in the area, the agency has completed its transition into a younger, better educated, diverse, highly bilingual, proactive, representative, community oriented, agency. Most impressive is that this transition was achieved while remaining budget neutral. Our department was recently re-accredited by the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, an honor that required much hard work and should not be taken lightly.
I am proud this evening to complete the transition that has been years in the making by swearing in our new Police Chief – Anthony Smith; Deputy Chief Justin Gabrys; Captains Bill Newton and Jonathan Delaney; and Sergeants Oxmani Corona, Joe Camacho and Anthony Liguori.
A reflection of this past year would be incomplete without remembering the events of October 22, 2018 and the days and weeks beyond. As you all know, a tragic fire destroyed all of the structures on the Northwest corner of Warren and Blackwell Streets, displacing numerous residences and businesses. For a few days, our little proud town was national news. The community response and outpouring of love, unity, support and financial assistance was awe-inspiring. I came away with a clear understanding that we, the residents of Dover, could unify and be resilient in the face of extraordinary circumstances. I came away renewed and restored in my faith in humanity and in the residents of our great Town, the newly appointed Faith Based Organization, and our Police Chaplaincy program.
I start the New Year inspired by you, the residents of Dover. I start the New Year, resolved to continue working to improve this town and the quality of life of all its residents. Finally, I start the New Year renewed in the spirit of public service to continue to shepherd this Town towards the greatness it deserves.
Happy New Year. May God Bless you our great country and our Town.
Mayor James P. Dodd