Friday, April 19, 2024

Debra Shipps Elected Mayor in Knowlton

Knowlton committee member Debra Shipps was named mayor by her colleagues. She is sworn in by township clerk Kailene Molion as Shipps’ son, John Joseph Catanzaro, had the important job of holding the Bible. Photo by Joe Phalon.

Debra Shipps took the helm of Knowlton Township, being elected mayor by the township committee January 4 at its annual reorganization meeting. 

Committee member James Mazza was named deputy mayor. 

Shipps was sworn into the office by Knowlton Township town clerk Kailene Molion. Her oath was witnessed by her son, John Joseph Catanzaro, who held the Bible. 

Mazza was also sworn in by Molion. He was accompanied by a cell phone and several members of the New York State law enforcement community. Shipps explained that Mazza, who is general manager of a trucking and rigging company, was stuck in upstate New York with a late-running mega-trucking project.

“James is traveling for work,” Shipps said. “He’s stuck up in New York transporting a huge load with three state police escorts.”

Mazza’s oath, administered over the phone, was apparently witnessed by several New York State Troopers. 

Shipps takes over the mayor’s role from longtime committee member Frank Van Horn, who is recovering from an illness. Shipps said that she spoke to Van Horn’s wife, Mary, earlier in the day who said her husband gave his blessings for the transition. 

“He was OK with stepping down from there this year and he thought that I could handle it,” Shipps said. 

Shipps said the committee will allow Van Horn up to four months before he decides his next steps with the governing body.  

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.