By Don Galante
I have had the honor of serving my community as a Borough Councilman for 16 years. During that period, I worked with two incredible people who held the position of Mayor of Little Silver. The first eight years (2000 to 2008) were spent working and collaborating with Suzy Castleman. The second eight years (2011 to present) joining forces with Bob Neff. Although both terms are unique, due to different issues facing our town and our society, there are incredible similarities in both leaders and how they managed Little Silver.
I want to start by clarifying, being Mayor of Little Silver is not a ceremonial job. The job entails many long hours, lots of hard work, tough decisions and difficult negotiations. Being Mayor also means doing copious amounts of research in order to make the most educated decisions for the town. These decisions are usually not the easy or popular ones. And while Suzy and Bob had a completely different approach, I never wavered in my belief that both Mayors have always had only the best interests of their constituents in mind. All decisions were for the greater good, not to win popularity contests or to post photos.
Suzy would stare you down and pull no punches, and you had better be ready to be called onto the carpet. Yet, when you walked away, you knew that she had been incredibly fair.
Bob lets people speak until everyone is exhausted, and he follows that up with a firm statement of the truth, never allowing false statements to linger in the conversation. You walk away comfortable that you were heard, even if you are not happy at the outcome.
Both Suzy and Bob are Diplomats, not Politicians; Suzy served the office and the community in a caring and responsible fashion as Bob does today. This is a quality that is derived from years of experience—navigating work environments, speaking with professionals or listening to constituents. You also gain knowledge (and humbleness) through relationships—navigating employee and colleague interactions, compromising with a spouse or negotiating with your children. These are not traits you learn from a book or by spending time with your peers. This is a form of diplomacy you gain from giving and receiving respect.
Suzy and Bob consistently exhibited traits of true leadership. They never took credit for a job well done; they used words like “we” and “team” instead of “I”. They constantly acknowledged the people that work alongside them. They led by example and encouraged people to make the most informed decision—not ever forcing their opinions on someone else, allowing them to see all sides of the argument. And most importantly, they would never place blame, but would accept responsibility and always act responsibly within the rules. They knew that by not following rules that they would be exposing the Town to unnecessary risk. Therefore, when Suzy was stepping down from the Mayor role, she asked Bob to run in her place, knowing he would continue wonderful stewardship of her beloved community.
On June 4, it is extremely important to support Bob Neff in his run for another term as our Mayor. Little Silver has wonderful people in our community, and they deserve proven leadership, which has led our town to be a desirable and highly rated place to live. If you want those benefits to continue, taxes to remain under control, and our facilities, volunteers and professionals to continue to be committed to keeping Little Silver a special place to live: VOTE for Bob Neff in this year’s Republican Primary on June 4th.
Don Galante, a councilman in Little Silver, serves on the boards of Monmouth County Crime Stoppers and Mater Dei Prep High School. He is the former Chairman of the Municipal Advisory Group to the Monmouth County Tax Board, a former board member of the Community YMCA and Elon University Advisory Board. He retired as COO from his Wall Street career after 35 years in Global Fixed Income Markets.
Don has lived in Little Silver for 33 years, He and his wife Mandy have 3 adult children.
Editors Note: Suzanne E. “Suzy” Castleman was the Mayor of Little Silver from January 1, 1995 until her death at the age of 76 on July 29, 2011.
Bob Neff was nominated for mayor by Castleman and completed her term upon her passing. He has since been elected twice and is seeking a third term this year.