Jonathan Nelson is the Parsippany Town Council's newest member.
The 44-year-old Democrat, the first from his party to be elected to the council in nearly three decades, was sworn in during a brief ceremony at the start of the council's Tuesday night meeting.
"As a Democrat, I feel like I'm facing a firing squad," joked state Sen. and former Gov. Richard Codey, as he prepared to administer the oath of office to Nelson. Then he offered the new councilman a piece of advice.
"Your job is to be a watchdog," Codey said. "But nobody likes a dog that barks all night. Work with them when they're right, but speak up when they are wrong."
With that, the oath was read and repeated, and an enthusiastic round of applause filled Council Chambers. Then Councilman Nelson shared a few words.
First, he singled out two people for special thanks: former Mayors Marceil "Mimi" Letts and Frank B. Priore.
Nelson then promised to be a legislator who would represent all the people of Parsippany.
He conceded that there could be differences of opinion between himself and his fellow council members.
"I used an old Ed Koch statement when I was campaigning," he said. "If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12, get psychiatric help."
He asserted that residents should not expect government to do things for them. Instead, he said that people working together with leaders could solve the problems that face Parsippany.
"Government isn't the solution," Nelson said. "Fifty thousand people working together is."
Nelson said a lot of important issues need to be addressed in the township and he pledged to work hard to stand up for the residents while working with his new council colleagues.
On Nov. 6, Nelson defeated Republican nominee Judy Tiedemann to fill the one-year unexpired term. The vote finally was certified by Morris County Clerk Joan Bramhall Monday morning, allowing the swearing in to proceed as planned.