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By: Kelly Jemal Massry

Last month, the town of Deal New Jersey welcomed a new Mayor into its midst! Mr. Sam Cohen, who had formerly served as Deal Commissioner, was inducted in a beautiful ceremony attended by friends and family.

Mr. Cohen has been a resident of Deal since 1975 when, as a newly married man, he focused his energy on buying what he thought then would be only a summer home. As the seasons changed into fall and then winter however, he and his wife Nina found they were enjoying themselves so much that they wanted to stay. Something about the town – the tranquility or the natural beauty of suburbia – had cast a spell on them. Rather than continuing to rent in Brooklyn, they stayed permanently in the home they had acquired and built their family until it grew to include five children.

Together with his brother Joel, Sam opened the company M&J Trimmings, which serviced the fashion industry with trimmings and embellishments of all kinds. Sam then went on to found Samuel & Sons, a trade-only trimming company that caters exclusively to architects and interior designers.  The venture expanded into an international business with flagship showrooms in New York, Chicago, L.A. and London. For many years, Sam played an integral role in day-to-day operations but, as time passed, his sons took over more and more of the responsibilities. “My sons are doing such a good job, I have to look around for things to do!” he jokes. As someone who likes to stay busy and is happiest while running from one function to the next, Sam couldn’t abide by an idle lifestyle. Former Mayor Harry Franco, A’’H, approached him to be a Deal Commissioner. Though, at the time, Sam wasn’t politically savvy, Harry and many of the leaders of our community believed Sam would be a good fit for the job. Together with his predecessor, Morris Ades, and fellow commissioner David Simhon, Sam worked to pass resolutions that would benefit the Deal Community.

Sam is quick to acknowledge that running the town of Deal is a team effort between all three commissioners. He gives no special distinction to himself as Mayor – only will concede that, as the person with the title, people will perhaps come to him first with their concerns. No matter his individual influence, it’s true that a resolution cannot go into effect without the vote of all three commissioners – and in every case, majority wins. Even in this new position, then, Sam looks faithfully to Commissioners Morris Ades and David Simhon to help him in his effort to lead. “I’m very grateful that Morris Ades, our former Mayor, has stayed on as commissioner,” Sam says. “He brings valuable experience after working with the town for so long.”

To Sam, running for office and awaiting the voting results was the most exciting part of the entire process. About his new position, he is unfailingly humble. “It’s nice to have the title,” he says, “but it’s not what’s important to me.” What is important to him is the city of Deal and executing his vision for its improvement. “My hope is to beautify the town,” Sam says. “Coming from the south, Norwood Avenue is not what it should be; the curbing is crumbling and medians need landscaping.  We will begin replanting many of the trees that have been lost over the years to various storms.”

As Mayor, Sam will act as a conduit between the town and the townspeople. He’ll deal with the town police and anything to do with public works, such as street repair and sanitation pick up.

Sam also has intentions for his position on the planning board. Often the property residents seek to build does not conform to the rules of the town – and so they must come before the planning board and seek a variance. “Variances hold people up and cost people a lot of money,” says Sam. “They also clog up the calendar of the planning board. So I’m looking to amend one the rules of how the fence height from street level is measured. I’m sure this will decrease the number of variances that are applied for and save many people, time, and money.”

It’s important to Sam that residents can easily enjoy the luxury of living on the Jersey Shore. “People are coming from far and wide.  This has created a parking problem for many of our residents,” Sam says. “The residents are not happy, so we need to come up with a solution.” As to what the solution is, Sam is not yet sure, but he will seek to resolve it as mayor.

In other exciting developments, the Deal Casino tennis courts have been rented out to the Deal Sephardic Network (DSN) and been repaved for basketball use!

Now all of the basketball tournaments held throughout the summer will be centrally located. “They’re going to make it fabulous for everyone,” says Sam, who readily admits, “DSN has changed everything.” Because of DSN, he says, “there’s a beautiful flourishing community now centered on group activity and socialization.” It truly has become a central hub for residents and Sam will not forget its importance as Mayor.

Sam thanks his family, who were so supportive during his mayoral run and are so proud of him now that he’s won. He also thanks his fellow community members, who all seem excited to have him in this position of leadership. We wish Mr. Cohen luck in this new chapter of his life and look forward to the many changes to come over Deal, New Jersey with him at the helm.