Amalia Duarte was elected in 2017, with 54% of the vote, to become the first Democrat to serve on the Mendham Township Committee.
Today, she is focused on the most important issue facing the town — the COVID-19 outbreak. She is helping to provide information and support to residents, in particular seniors, and engaging in other community efforts.
“It has been a pleasure to serve the residents of Mendham Township, and I am excited to continue working on areas that are important to them,” said Duarte. “During this terrible, unprecedented crisis, my thoughts and prayers are with residents who have the coronavirus and to their families and for their road to recovery.”
As part of the township response, Duarte spearheaded an outreach program to call elderly residents, especially those living alone, to check in and ensure they are doing okay. She organized a team, including First Aid Squad Cadets, members of the Citizens Emergency Response Team and the mayor.
She also helped organize Mendham Gives Back, a town-wide campaign to collect clothing, old sporting goods and food. In addition, she has worked on providing mental health resources to the community as chair of the Mendhams Stigma-Free Task Force. The Task Force launched a fundraising drive for the Interfaith Food Pantry and raised nearly $2,000.
In April, Duarte launched an Ad Hoc Marketing Communications Committee made up of residents with marketing, communications and business professional backgrounds. With township property values declining by 11% since 2007, this group will focus on how to promote the positive attributes of the community in a coordinated, strategic way, using the best communications tools and methods. The goal is to create a plan of recommendations and present it to the Township Committee by the Fall of 2020.
During her first term, Duarte has focused on issues that she campaigned on, including:
- Supporting a municipal budget that delivers needed services, while keeping taxes down
- Leading a volunteer committee focused on improving communication to residents
- Investing in recreation, reviving Brookside Beach and re-opening the Ralston Playground
- Establishing and chairing the Mendhams Stigma-Free Task Force
- Successfully proposing an ordinance to add student representatives to volunteer committees
When it comes to lowering costs for residents, she initiated a successful move by the township to join an energy co-operative with other municipalities that will reduce monthly electric bills for homeowners.
She also proposed a resolution, that was unanimously adopted by the New Jersey League of Municipalities, asking Congress and the President to restore the full State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions.
She established and has been chair of the Mendhams Stigma-Free Task Force, in partnership with Mendham Borough. This group of volunteers has organized parent workshops on youth mental health issues, marijuana, vaping and autism awareness. Earlier this year, the Task Force provided community forums about teen suicide to promote healing and hope.
She has served as liaison to the Brookside and Ralston Engine Companies, the First Aid Squad, the Police Department, the Environmental Commission, Historic Preservation Committee, Mendham TV, the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, the West Morris Regional School District and the Wildlife Committee.
Prior to winning election, Duarte volunteered in Mendham for many years, primarily in recreation. She was a longtime girls basketball and soccer coach and served on the West Morris Soccer Club Board. She was on the Recreation Commission for 12 years and served as the Chair. She was a key organizer of the annual Mendham Patriots’ 5K Race & Kids’ Fun Run. She was also Co-Chair of the Rebuild Ralston Playground campaign, which raised more than $100,000 to re-open the playground.
She served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Adjustment and was a member of the township’s Open Space Committee.
Currently, she is on the Board of the Schiff Nature Preserve; a trustee of the Brookside Community Church; a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor; and a member of the Rotary Club of the Mendhams. She also serves on the New Jersey Board of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
Professionally, Duarte is the Public Affairs Director for ECLC of New Jersey, a nonprofit that provides “Education, Careers & Lifelong Community” to nearly 900 children and adults with special needs. She is on the Board of the Alliance of Private Special Needs Schools of North Jersey. She also serves on the Executive Board of ASAH, the umbrella organization for schools and agencies serving people with disabilities. And, she is Chair of ASAH’s Public Relations Committee.
She has two children, Matthew Messina, a college freshman, and Elena Messina, a 2020 graduate of Northeastern University. They both attended the Mendham Township Schools from K-8 and Mendham High School.