Bogota Making a Fresh Start

By Morrison, Aaron | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), January 4, 2015 | Go to article overview

Bogota Making a Fresh Start


Morrison, Aaron, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


BOGOTA -- An audience of more than 75 people, including state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, gathered Saturday to witness Lisa Kohles and Thomas Napolitano take the oath of office for three-year terms on the Borough Council. Both were surrounded by family members for the oath.

"I think what this country needs is a lot of strong women in politics," said Kohles, an incumbent who asked Weinberg, D-Teaneck, to administer the oath.

Napolitano, a newcomer to the council, thanked the public for electing him and said the new mayor and council administration "know that you deserve better."

"The sun shines again in Bogota," he said in remarks written before Saturday's snow and rain.

This version of the annual remaking of municipal government in Bogota was decidedly more civil than the last reorganization, which ran for several hours because of disagreements on appointments and drew a verbal reprimand from Weinberg.

But the officials' votes on borough appointments indicated that the mayor and members of the new Borough Council were still not all on the same page.

After Kohles' nomination of Councilman Robert Robbins for council president was not seconded, the council's Republicans voted for the previous president, Democrat Jorge Nunez, to keep the title. Councilman John Mitchell was selected to serve as police commissioner.

With Napolitano's and Kohles' swearing in, the council is now split politically. The Democrats are Kohles, Robbins and Nunez. Daniele Fede, Mitchell and Napolitano are Republicans. Mayor Chris Kelemen, a Republican, is the tie-breaker vote.

Fede, a runner-up in the Nov. 4 general election, was appointed last month to serve in Kelemen's vacated council seat. The mayor was sworn in soon after narrowly defeating former Mayor Tito Jackson by 28 votes in November.

Jackson and fellow Democrat Ingrid Brito, who lost to Napolitano by 15 votes, failed Friday to convince a Superior Court judge in Hackensack that dozens of votes had been tampered with by two poll workers assisting voters on Election Day. A series of video snippets from surveillance footage at the polling station in the Bogota Jr./ Sr. High School gymnasium showed a poll worker making at least five appearances inside a voting booth. …

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