If you think about what 54 years represents, it really could seem like a lifetime. For example, there were 54 years in between the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup — from 1940 to 1994. Legions of fans never got to see the trophy hoisted.
But that same time frame sure is a lot for others, where scores of things happened for the better. And in the case of Kearny Council President Carol Jean Doyle, the councilwoman from the Third Ward, that’s the number of years she’s lived in Kearny — and the amount of time the now candidate for mayor has volunteered as a Woman for Others (we’ve heard that term before, haven’t we?)
It was then, nearly 5½ decades ago, Doyle moved from the Jersey Shore to Kearny when she and her husband, the late Norman Doyle Jr., began their family. First, it was daughter Meghan who was born and then a few years later, Norman “Bogie” III. Before and after the birth of the children, rarely did it ever seen Doyle was at home — because she was out volunteering.
The CV portion of this story could go on ad nauseam and may very well. But the truth is, it’s her body of work that brings us to 2023 and her second shot at the mayoralty of the town she says she loves so much.
We’ll get to that in a moment, but some may not recall she first ran for mayor, albeit unsuccessfully, in 1995. That year, she came up against a man who was at the time a GOP juggernaut in Mayor Leo R. Vartan. Truth is, however, she ran two years too soon.
And so here in 2023, one might say it’s finally come full circle.
Yet in-between, in those 54 years, her involvement has been and continues to be what seems to be endless.
The first few groups she was and still is a member of include the Kearny Elks, the American Legion and the Hudson County Cancer Society. But it was around 1978 when she says she was most instrumental as a non-elected official.
“That was the year Gloria Spence and I, among others, brought 911 to Kearny,” Doyle said. “At the time, there were only 13 other communities (in Jersey) that had 911, so we were absolutely at the forefront. Before then, when there were emergencies, people had to run outside to those red call boxes. After we were able to institute the 911 system in Kearny, it made reporting emergencies so much easier and so much more safe for residents.”
But this was only the beginning.
Around the same time, Doyle recalls actively supporting the late former Mayor Henry J. Hill, a Republican unlike her, when there were talks of reopening a dump in town that was deeply contaminated with the toxic chemical element Radon.
“I protested on Belgrove Drive at Bergen Avenue and we kept it closed,” she said of what was perhaps a foreshadowing to her protesting, yet again, 40 some-odd years later to keep the Keegan Landfill closed. “I was loud about it. I refused to leave and I was with many members of the Junior Woman’s Club of Arlington.”
Perhaps the second-greatest achievement to which she has claim is the building of the Passaic Avenue dog park.
“Jose Torres got the ball rolling but it stalled,” she said. “But I knew knew how important something like this was for Kearny. There are many homes that are multi-family and many people live in apartments and otherwise don’t have yards for their dogs. So through Hudson County we applied for and received grants to create the park and it was at no additional expense to our taxpayers. To this day, people love bringing their dogs there.”
Doyle has also been a longtime member and is former chairwoman of the Woman’s Club of Arlington, is a VFW Auxiliary Post member, was chairwoman for a significant chunk of time for the aforementioned Hudson chapter of the American Cancer Society. She’s also former chairwoman and a current member of the Kearny Optimist Club.
Following her 1996 election to the Town Council, Doyle took on the absolutely daunting task of becoming the town finance chairwoman. For 22 of those years on the council, she’s been its president, having succeeded former Councilwoman Barbara Cifelli-Sherry.
During her time on the council, she also chaired the town’s Neighborhood Watch Program and became a member of the board of directors at the non-profit Pathways to Independence. She is also a founding and current member of the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company’s board.
She served on Kearny’s 150th anniversary committee, is a Friend of Erin and a 20-year member of Kearny’s Project Graduation committee.
Sorry, not done yet.
For 20 years, she’s been an active member of the Kearny Municipal Alliance, she actively planned the centennial of the JE Frobisher Post 99, was a 33-year member of the Passaic River Cleanup committee (she just recently gave that up), has run the senior picnic, now at the Doyle Pavilion, for 32 years, has run the Memorial Day Parade for just as long and has been head of the Kearny Giving Tree project for 33 years.
She’s received countless awards — including those from the Passaic River Coalition and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She is a past recipient of The Jersey Journal’s Woman of Achievement award and was honored by Hudson County as a Woman of the Year.
She’s also received awards from the Salvation Army of Greater Kearny, the Christopher Columbus committee, the New Jersey Federation of Woman’s Clubs, the (Thomas) Giblin Association, the United Irish, Girl Scout Troop 2771, the Elks and the Essex-West Hudson County Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.
In modern times, she says she’s most proud of being in the forefront of the town’s purchase of the former Lutheran Church on Oakwood Avenue.
“I was instrumental in brokering the deal,” she said. “Former Mayor Alberto G. Santos wanted to be sure I was involved and I was grateful he recognized me publicly once we achieved that goal.”
She’s also adamant the town does not create a separate authority or utility to handle the town’s parking woes, something that is currently on the table.
“If there is an authority, or utility, or whatever they want to call it, the town would lose all revenue from the permits, from metered parking profits and it would create a big hole in our budget,” Doyle said. “The town has to retain control to be sustainable.”
In acknowledging just how bad parking is in town, she says she reviewed the ordinances ahead of the meeting that was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7, and it will be important for residents to attend smaller-scale meetings that take place in the future in each of Kearny’s four wards.
In the end, Doyle also says she expects, if elected Nov. 7, to do a “great job,” building off the progress the town made under the former mayor. And if she does well succeed, perhaps in 2025, though she originally said she would only serve out Santos’s term, she may very well move ahead and seek another full, four-year term, come 2025.
“We will see how it goes, but I expect we will build on the past years and continue to do good things for Kearny,” she said. “Are taxes high? Yes, they are everywhere. But we’ve done a good job keeping the part we control stable — the municipal portion. We don’t control the school board or the county, but we will continue to do all we can — and must — locally.”
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.