Nordstrom Tapped as Highlands Deputy
Former Freeholder takes over for recently-resigned Tom Borden.
Former Morris County Freeholder Margaret Nordstrom is now the Highlands Council’s deputy director, after the body appointed her to the position on Thursday in Chester.
Nordstrom, who was forced to vacate her seat on the Freeholder board after an appellate court ruled her election in November was invalid, said she didn’t consider working on the Highlands Council initially.
“I wasn’t thinking about (working on the Highlands Council) at the time,” Nordstrom said. “I always thought it would be something I might like to do, but I didn’t consider it until the Borden resignation.”
The resignation of deputy director Tom Borden came in protest, shortly after the firing of director Eileen Swan earlier this year. In April, former Morris County Freeholder Gene Feyl was appointed as Swan’s successor.
At that time, rumblings began that Nordstrom may be the heir apparent to Borden’s seat because of her connection to Feyl and their work together on the freeholder board.
When asked if she thought Feyl’s position on the council had anything to do with her hiring, Nordstrom was quick to say no.
“(Feyl) and I worked extremely well together,” Nordstrom said. “I think that’s a plus, but not the reason I was appointed.”
Nordstrom said she prepared for the interview session with the council by becoming familiar with the Highlands and its accompanying laws and technicalities.
“I was able to get the broad picture of what the council does,” Nordstrom said. “I was well prepared for the session. It was a nice interview.”
Nordstrom, a Washington Township resident, was elected to the Freeholder board in 1999 after serving on the Washington Township Committee and as mayor. She began her involvement in local politics as a member of the Washington Township Historic Preservation Commission, and is an admitted advocate of open space.
As part of the Highlands Council, Nordstrom said, “I’d like see more land preservation. Obviously, protecting our water resources is the top priority.”
While serving as Freeholder, however, Nordstrom said her initial feelings toward the council, when it was created in 2004, weren’t all that welcoming.
“I wasn’t opposed to the council,” Nordstrom said. “I actually thought the mission was a good thing. But I was upset about the process involved. I thought it should be based more on a consensus. It’s better to have a consensus when things are planned to move forward.”
At the time, Nordstrom was part of a group of officials that went to Trenton to discuss the issue, she said, but was rebuffed quickly by then Governor Jim McGreevey.
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, who voted for Nordstrom's appointment to the Highlands Council, said she has a record of preservation and planning and "I think it makes her more than qualified to be Deputy Director. I look forward to working closely with her and the Executive Director. I wish her congratulations, good fortune and good luck."
Governor Chris Christie has 10 days to veto the meeting minutes from Thursday night, which would deny Nordstrom’s appointment. If he does not do so, Nordstrom will take her position on May 29 following Memorial Day weekend. The position comes with a $92,000 salary.