Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore will not seek a 5th consecutive term on the Middletown Township Committee.
In a February 29 email to Middletown’s Republican leadership, Fiore said, “My recent expanded responsibilities at work (which include many nights of travel) coupled with my most important responsibilities as a husband and father, will make it impossible for me to continue to serve the Committee the only way I know how, at 110%.”
“The Township is in better shape than it was when I came into office 12 years ago,” Fiore said in a phone interview. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
First elected in 2008 in the wake of Operation Bid Rig, the investigation by Chris Christie’s U.S. Attorney’s Office that resulted in the indictment and convictions of many Monmouth County elected officials including a Middletown Township Committee member, Fiore has been the driving force in reforming Middletown’s municipal government.
Often credited for shepherding Middletown’s recovery from Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, Fiore said the storms were not the biggest challenges of his tenure on the Township Committee. “Cutting $11 million from the Township budget in 2011 in response to the State mandated 2% property tax cut without degrading public safety or the high quality of services we provide was the biggest challenge. During my last three terms we restructured the entire Township government to create improvements and savings.”
“What do we have to do? What do we want to do? What would we like to do?” Those three questions became the matrix through which Fiore and his colleagues prioritize Middletown’s spending and programs.
Middletown Day, the popular fair held annually in September, is a simple example of the kind of reforms Fiore made throughout his tenure. Faced with a fiscal crisis in 2011, the fair was a costly budget item that the Township did not have to do but wanted to do. Fiore cancelled the 2011 Middletown Day and then reformed it in subsequent years to be funded by sponsors and vendors.
From selling the pool club, to restructuring the library’s governance and budget, to reforming employee benefits through negotiations, to increasing recreational facilities and fields, to increasing the size of the police force, to withdrawing from the “affordable housing” settlements, to moving dispatch services into a shared service with Monmouth County, Fiore often led his colleagues to take an initially unpopular or controversial position and prevailed.
“For more than a decade, Tony Fiore has been an incredible leader for Middletown,” Mayor Tony Perry said. “He led our Township through turbulent years following the financial crash of 2008, he led us through both hurricanes Irene and Sandy and he served as a mentor for me and so many others that have and continue to serve this Township. It has been my honor to serve with Tony and I am incredibly grateful for his service to Middletown!”
“Tony Fiore has been a relentless advocate for the people of Middletown and for all taxpayers of New Jersey. His leadership, intelligence and vision will be missed,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon. “I should note though that we won’t let him escape completely! As long as he has a phone his opinion and input will be sought out by those of us still in the arena!
“There are so many things that Tony Fiore and I have worked on together over the years, but there are two that immediately stand out when I think of his many accomplishments,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone. “Top on the list is Memorial Sloan Kettering locating in Middletown. When the call came in that they wanted to open a facility in Monmouth County, I immediately called Tony, who was mayor at the time. I knew he could manage the process and facilitate the approvals to bring the first class healthcare provider to his Township and our County. He did a fabulous job.
“Second is Superstorm Sandy. I was Deputy Director and Tony was Mayor during that terrible time. The compassion and leadership he demonstrated for his residents on the bayshore who lost their homes, as well as for the rest of the Township who were living without electricity for two weeks, was inspiring,” Arnone said. “Sandy would have been a much harder ordeal for the residents of Middletown, if not for Tony’s leadership.”