The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council officially has a new member, sort of.
Air Force reservist and businessman James Vigilante, who served on the council from 1995-2007, was sworn in Tuesday night at Town Hall to temporarily fill the seat once occupied by newly appointed Freeholder John Cesaro.
"I'm back, and it feels good," said the new-again councilman after taking the oath of office.
"The last time you were up here, you had a lot more hair," joked Councilman Michael dePierro.
"It's deja vu all over again," said resident Roy Messmer.
In more ways than one. When Vigilante was sworn in for previous terms, the oath was adminstered by Asm. Alex DeCroce presided over the formality.
This time, the 's widow, , did the honors.
"I'm proud to share the honor with you," Vigilante told the assemblywoman.
In his remarks before the council, his family and an audience largely made of up of officers and military veterans, along with citizens present for the council's agenda meeting, the Air Force First Sergeant paid tribute those who serve their country.
He also thanked the council and the Parsippany Republican Municipal Committee, which or and .
Vigilante referenced his and his recent work at a Navy medical center in San Diego ("the Walter Reed Bethesda of the West," he said) helping wounded U.S. soldiers.
"I served with the best of the best," he said. "I've seen veterans with missing limbs trying to walk with prosthetic legs. Between there and what I saw in Afghanistan last year, I wouldn't wish those visions on anyone, but I wouldn't have missed that experience for anything in the world.
"I'm a better man and I appreciate life for whatever it may bring."
Vigilante also talked of moments in a lifetime that radically change an individual's life, events that "shake you to the core and alter the course of your life."
"For me, returning to the Township Council is one of those moments," he said, adding that these rare events, "if you're lucky ... give you a renewed sense of purpose and meaning."
Vigilante said his purpose on the council will be to serve as "a voice of reason and compromise ... optimism, hope and dedication."
The councilman said he considers public service not a title, but a way of life, and announced he would donate 10 percent of his earnings to veteran groups.
Vigilante served on the Town Council for 12 years, but lost his seat five years ago after he opted to forego the Republican primary and instead run for re-election as an independent candidate.
His present council appointment lasts until November, when a . The Parsippany GOP will have to decide on a nominee to take on already announced .
Asked whether he believes the Republican committee will give him the nod to run in the fall to keep the seat, Vigilante said he didn't know.
"I would hope so and would be humble if I were nominated," he said.