GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Stockton State College's William J. Hughes Center honored five people Wednesday who have shared the spirit of working together in their community.

The center recognized the five at its second annual dinner in honor of its namesake former congressman William J. Hughes at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club on New York Road.

This is the second year the center awarded the civility in government and politics award, and this year officials decided to add four more and reach out to include local business owners and students who have also shown a commitment to public service, said Daniel Douglas, director for the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.

"With the fiscal cliff and times of gridlock and things not getting done, we wanted to identify people who have gotten things done in life,” Douglas said. “We feel that's worth celebrating."

Former Congressman Jim Saxton, who won this year's civility in government and politics award, recalled his first week in office when Hughes, a Democrat, visited his new Republican colleague in his office.

"He said, 'Jim, we are going to be partners,'" Saxton recalled. "I believe every time he saw me he referred to me as ‘my partner.’"

The two congressmen worked together for years on a number of environmental policies, Saxton said.

"We got things done," he said. "It was because we worked together. I wish I could say that was the way Washington works. … It's a little different today than it was in the past."

Former Gov. Brendan Byrne, who received the distinguished lifetime achievement award, said working with everyone was key as he served in government.

"That was an important objective," he said. "I'm for that and very enthusiastic about that. I always thought people were working with me. Maybe they were faking."

Galloway resident Justin Frankel, a senior at Stockton who will graduate in May with a degree in political science and plans to join the Marines, said that while working on projects as a member of the college's Student Senate he learned the key is to connect with people and understand their positions.

"You try to educate them as much as you can to get them to understand on a large scale what is going on," said the winner of the distinctive student leadership award. "You don't try to change their mind but give them a more informed opinion on everything you are trying to do."

Lori Herndon, president of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, said it was an honor to be in a room of so many local officials and leaders who work with so many people in the community. The winner of the distinctive alumni leadership award said the key to being effective is by putting other people first.

"At AtlantiCare we put the community first," the Brigantine resident said. "We put the needs of the patients and their families first."

Dennis Bone, director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair State University’s School of Business and former president of Verizon New Jersey, thanked his family for their support as he accepted the award for excellence in civic engagement.

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