By: Ericca Farrington
Mayor Maria DiGiovanni of Hackettstown is one of five recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Women in Municipal Government Award. Committeeman James J. Perry, who serves on the New Jersey State League of Municipalities as 1st Vice President, nominated her for the award.
According to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities website, “In 2003, the New Jersey League of Municipalities, in conjunction with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Women in Municipal Government Committee, created an annual award “The Outstanding Women in Government Award” recognizing contributions and dedicated service toward the advancement of women in government.”
When asked about receiving the award, DiGiovanni said, “Its just great that the League reaches out and finds women…that want to do something for their towns and to elevate in leadership roles in the municipal government.”
DiGiovanni served on the Hackettstown Town Council for two terms. She decided to run in the mayoral race when former mayor Michael Lavery had announced that he was no longer going to run. “I thought that I had something to offer more than the council…I really love being in a leadership role,” she says. “I had a vision for Hackettstown and I really wanted to see that play through.”
Since taking office, DiGiovanni has worked hard to make her vision for the town become a reality. She wanted to improve relationships. One was work with Mars Wrigley North America so that they were involved with Hackettstown in a more visible way. “They’ve always worked behind the scenes and donated and supported us, but we wanted to do things that we’re proud to have them in our town.” That pride has become visible in street signs and welcome signs that showcase the company’s involvement with the town, along with renaming a portion of the street that the company resides on. Hackettstown has also bettered their relationship with Centenary University. “They’re right in the middle of our town and our neighbors so we wanted the town and the university to work together.”
In addition, revitalizing the downtown was involved in DiGiovanni’s vision. Businesses that were once taking a downturn after a dip in the economy are now thriving thanks to Hackettstown’s Business Improvement District. “We’ve become a restaurant mecca and we have microbrews.”
In lieu of having her visions become realities, the Hackettstown Mayor is also proud that the town paid off their debts in 2017 to a zero balance. “We remain a debt free town. Anything that we need in terms of capital improvements or equipment we fund out of our own capital improvement fund.”
When asked about the advice that she would give to other women who are considering becoming more active in their local governments, Mayor DiGiovanni says, “Leave your every option open, leave your mind open to everything and really have the confidence in yourself to go ahead and do it.”
The Women in Municipal Networking & Awards Event will take place Wednesday, November 20 at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlantic City at 5:15 p.m.