Tonya Rivera is named to Eatontown Council

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — At their January 23 meeting, the Eatontown Borough Council welcomed a brand new member to their chambers — along with just a tiny bit of controversy.

Eatontown Councilwoman Tonya Rivera was sworn in to office at the Jan. 23 Borough Council meeting.

The controversy did not come with the swearing in of Democrat Tonya Rivera to fill out the unexpired term of Bridget Harris, who resigned her position on council last December 31. The dispute was about the council being more transparent in their selection process.

A resident got up during the public portion of the session (and after Rivera was sworn in to her new post) to complain that there was very little public discussion about the process that ended up putting Rivera up on the dais as a councilperson in the first place.

“I was here last meeting and had a little talk {with you} about transparency.… How did we go from last meeting until now?” he asked the group.

“As far as I know, you never went into executive session,” he said. “We don’t know what the names of the {three} people were. We don’t know what their qualifications were {or the} criteria for the qualification process. We got none of that”.

Councilwoman Lisa Story responded. “No interview was required at all. It was more a courtesy to council,” she said.

When there is a vacancy on council, the party who controlled the seat submits three names as potential replacements, and council selects someone to fill the until the election in November.

In addition to Rivera, James David and Amber Gesselin were also named by the local Democrats as potential replacements. (The Link learned the names in mid-January by calling the borough offices.)

For the past 17 years, Rivera has worked in the education field. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Rutgers University, a Master’s from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and holds high school supervisor and principal certificates. For the past eight years she has worked as a high school English supervisor.