The Glen Rock Borough Council in New Jersey recently made a historic leap by becoming an all-female council, the first in the borough’s history and a rarity nationwide. The meeting was especially significant as it saw the induction of Regina Biagerra, replacing the recently retired councilman John Paul, completing the transition to an all-woman Council.
Biagerra, known for her community contributions and work with Ukrainian refugees, was sworn in front of a large crowd, including family, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, and various community members. The resolution of her appointment was passed, officially filling the unexpired term of Paul, ending December 31, 2023.
Biagerra’s induction and the resulting gender makeup of the Council drew both praise and scrutiny. Council members refuted suggestions that the all-female council was a planned scheme, emphasizing the fairness and legality of the selection process. They went further to celebrate the historical significance of their achievement, drawing parallels with the 1888 council of Oskaloosa, Kansas, the first all-woman government in the US.
Emphasizing the importance of female representation, the council pointed out the wider disparities, with only 11% of mayors being female and a lack of elected female County executives in New Jersey. The Mayor quoted the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “People ask me sometimes. When will there be enough women on the court? My answer is when there are nine.”
In the midst of these celebrations, the council made sure to acknowledge the contribution of John Paul, the retiring councilman replaced by Biagerra. Known for his immense contributions to the borough and his humble and considerate communication style, Paul received an outpouring of admiration and respect. Colleagues fondly remembered his dedication, compassion, and unique ability to bring focus to council discussions.
The council also honored other community contributors like Tracy, County Commissioner, and Esther Fletcher, as well as acknowledging the juggling act of the borough attorney between a successful career and family obligations.
In addition to these significant developments, the meeting covered an array of other important community issues and upcoming events. The council issued a proclamation recognizing Arbor Day, encouraged collaborations between the high school’s media center and Glen Rock TV, and updated residents on events such as a community cleanup, a battery-operated leaf blower trial program, and the “No-Mow May” initiative.
The meeting ended on a high note, with council members expressing their commitment to set the path forward for more female leadership and to demonstrate to younger generations that there are no barriers to their entry in community governance. The council’s first all-female governing body was seen not just as a historic moment but a step towards normalizing such scenarios, with the ultimate aim of making female leadership “normal and accepted”.