Community honors former mayor with portrait

By VASHTI HARRIS
Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — The Township of East Brunswick gathered together to witness the unveiling of former Mayor David Stahl’s portrait.

At the unveiling ceremony on Nov. 17, current Mayor Kevin McEvoy delivered a speech highlighting the challenges Stahl endured and the accomplishments he achieved during his time as mayor. McEvoy also presented Stahl with an honorary proclamation.

The year 2008 was a difficult time for our community and nation economically because of the downturn that affected all of us. But that did not stop Mayor Stahl from recognizing the need for strong leadership in the community’s chief executive officer; instead, he won the mayoral election and entered office determined to rescue, preserve and move our community forward,” McEvoy said. 

“[He] knew that difficult decisions lie ahead and he was going to have to make them. And that is what leaders do. Sometimes not the most popular, but decisions based on the general welfare of the community and the prudent course of action based on discussions, homework and leadership style.” 

After delivering his speech, McEvoy, along with East Brunswick resident and visual arts graduate Rebecca Schwartzstein, who painted the portrait, unveiled Stahl’s portrait, which will remain on display in the East Brunswick municipal building.

“This is our hall of justice and this is our room of law and order. All mayors are not just governmental figures, but representatives of East Brunswick. [Stahl] did not have a portrait, and I felt that it was not only my mission, but my obligation to see that David got a portrait. I wanted David’s portrait to not only represent him as a previous mayor, but for it to represent David, the man on the wall,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy mentioned in his speech that when deciding who to commission to do Stahl’s portrait, he wanted the artist to also be an East Brunswick resident. Schwartzstein was interviewed and ultimately landed the job.

“It took me a couple of months to complete the portrait. I have been drawing since I was 4 years old, and I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York and my thesis was portraits, so when I was asked to do this portrait for Mayor Stahl, I knew it was a great opportunity and it was a big commission,” Schwartzstein said.

“I am completely honored to have been given the opportunity to do this for East Brunswick,” she said.

Stahl was East Brunswick’s 31st mayor overall and the eighth mayor under the newly formed mayor-council governmental body created under the Faulkner Act of 1950, according to McEvoy.

Stahl’s political career began when he ran for council in 2002 — a time in his life when he wanted to become “more civically active” in community affairs. For the next six years, Stahl served as a councilman, council vice president and council president, according to McEvoy. 

In 2008, Stahl won the mayoral election and was officially sworn in during a ceremony in January of 2009. Stahl spent the next seven years as mayor of East Brunswick.

In January, he resigned as mayor to fulfill a judgeship in Woodbridge Township. He was succeeded by McEvoy.

“I never viewed my term as mayor about me, but about properly representing the Township of East Brunswick. This is a celebration for East Brunswick and seeing the public, the [municipal] staff, and family and friends, it makes me happy and I am glad to have called East Brunswick my home for [20-plus] years,” Stahl said.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@gmnews.com.