Township Council Selects Deborah Blakely to Fill Unexpired Council Seat

January 7, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township Council members selected Deborah Blakely to fill the unexpired seat vacated by Dan Schuberth at their annual reorganization meeting Thursday.

Mrs. Blakely is 20-year resident of Robbinsville and a graduate of Trenton State College (BS) and Saint John’s University (MA). She has worked for Mercer County Special Services since 1996 as a Speech/Language Pathologist, specializing in early childhood communication disorders.

Mr. Schuberth’s resignation became effective on January 1, 2021 and has relocated his family to Washington, D.C.

Also Thursday, Mike Cipriano was elected Council president for the first time. Vince Calcagno, the longest serving Councilperson, was elected vice president for the seventh time.

Because of when that vacancy occurred, Title 40 of the NJ Statute allows Council to make a temporary appointment to the vacancy until an election can be conducted to fill the seat.  This appointment will be for approximately 11 months, until the election results in November, 2021 are certified by the Mercer County Clerk. Council had a window of 30 days to make an appointment.

The law does not require an official application process or formal interviews; it only states that the appointee be a registered voter who has lived in Robbinsville for at least one year. This process is different than in partisan governments.

In partisan governments, Council is given a choice of only three candidates from the political party of the person who vacated the seat.

In non-partisan Robbinsville, any voter who has lived in town for one year was eligible to be appointed.

In a joint statement, Council members said:

“We want to thank everyone who expressed an interest in serving the public on Council. While all the candidates to come forward have a connection to the town and a strong desire to serve, there was one with a history and a connection we felt was unparalleled. Debbie Blakely is highly respected and well known to the entire governing body and Administration, which was an important factor as well.”

Mrs. Blakely has lived in Robbinsville since 2001. She is mother to two daughters, Brielle and Maggie, who are currently enrolled in the Robbinsville School District. Widow to the late Tom Blakely, who previously served on the zoning board. Blakely Park on Meadowbrook Road is named after Tom.

Mrs. Blakely is a strong advocate for grieving children, the special needs population and an animal lover. She in an active volunteer with Ability Tree of New Jersey.

“I am very proud to that Debbie has agreed to serve as a member of our Council,” Mayor Dave Fried said. “I have known Debbie for many years. She is thoughtful, caring and highly respected in the Robbinsville community. She will be a great addition to Council. I am also very encouraged that so many residents expressed interest and were willing to serve on the governing body. We are who we are in Robbinsville because of the willingness of so many to volunteer and serve others.”

Photos and story by: Robbinsville Township

Also tonight at the Robbinsville Council Meeting: