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Q&A: Hackensack's First Female Mayor Stays Cool With Carvel

Carvel President Scot Colwell visits Karen and Tom Sasso in their Hackensack shoppe.
Carvel President Scot Colwell visits Karen and Tom Sasso in their Hackensack shoppe. Photo Credit: Special To Daily Voice

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Karen Sasso made Hackensack history in 2006 when she was sworn in as the city's first female mayor. She was re-elected in 2010.

She's been named "Woman of the Year" from the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi/Hackensack, served on the board of the Main Street Business Alliance as a councilwoman for all 8 years of her tenure.

Through it all, Sasso has been helping her husband, Tom, run the Summit Avenue Carvel Ice Cream shoppe — which he opened in 1974.

She has since become a member of Carvel’s Franchise Advisory Council, which supports the needs of franchisees and helps the brand build a stronger relationship with its franchise owners.

Daily Voice caught up with Sasso for the scoop.

DAILY VOICE: So… Why Carvel? Have you always loved their ice cream?

KAREN SASSO: Honestly, I wasn’t even familiar with Carvel until the day I met my husband, Tom. He had already owned the business for several years. Tom worked full time as a tax accountant, but felt strongly about putting the effort into building a successful business that eventually could be passed on to our children. And, who doesn’t love ice cream? I was an instant fan.

DV: What’s your favorite part about working in the business?

KS: I love interacting with the kids who work for us. For many this is their first job and we believe it should be an experience for them to draw on as they continue their education and embark on careers. It also means a lot to me to contribute toward the success of our business.

DV: How has it brought you closer to your husband?

KS: Our management styles are completely different, so at times we have some intense discussions. Over the years we have worked our way through our responsibilities and found a way to share the work load; balancing that with all the other commitments in our lives. We are able to sense when one of us needs some extra help or a break and pick up the slack.

DV: Would you want to return to politics?

KS: I’m asked this question a lot. One of my answers is that I never really considered myself in politics. At the local level and in a nonpartisan city, I always felt I was elevating my community involvement. Of course my life would be very different had I not kept an open mind about the opportunity to serve in an elected position. Right now I have little extra time between my business and caring for my mom, but I always remain open to future possibilities.

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