Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Name-calling unnecessary in county freeholder race

This article was from 2005 in my run for Middlesex County Clerk.  We were questioning  no-bid contracts in that the by-laws stated no money shall be taken from anyone doing business with the county, and why campaign contributors such as the auditors, county engineers, county attorneys etc., received cushy contracts.   Stumbling blocks were thrown in our path every inch of the way, all the way up to our appeal with the State DCA.  It shows how politics are run in Middlesex County and the extent of how those in control will do anything to keep from relinquishing their hold of the coveted seats of power.


It’s not easy being a Republican candidate for a Middlesex County office. At least that appears to be the case for a slate of GOP candidates who last week tried to file an ethics complaint against the Democratic incumbents.

Not only did freeholder candidates Andrew Tidd and Jay Boxwell Jr. and county clerk hopeful Joe Sinagra show up with their complaint at a county ethics board meeting that did not take place (whether it had ever been scheduled is disputed), but their argument was quickly dismissed as “bogus” by the county counsel, who then tagged the candidates themselves with the same label. Granted, this was not the first shot fired by either side of the county campaign, but it seems downright inappropriate, especially coming from an attorney employed by the county.

County Counsel Thomas F. Kelso issued the statement after the GOP filed a complaint that incumbents David B. Crabiel, Camille Fernicola and County Clerk Elaine Flynn had violated an ethics code that prohibits candidates from accepting campaign contributions from those who receive county contracts. While Kelso explained there was no violation due to what appears to be a loophole distinguishing candidates from campaign committees, he went so far as to state that the complaint was lodged “by a bogus team of candidates who have no government experience and no public support.”

Needless to say, the Republicans, who do have government experience, did not appreciate the description. And they have a right to be ticked. The issue of pay-to-play has long been the norm in New Jersey politics, but it has seen massive public opposition and calls for reform. For a candidate to request a probe into whether a code has been violated doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

And despite the fact that they, like the Democrats, have been discussing many issues facing the county, the candidates are described as “bogus” in an official statement from none other than the county’s top lawyer. Kelso had no place making the comment. It’s one thing to see a candidate for office doing the name-calling; it’s another when the person in charge of county legal matters stoops to that level.

Just as the Democrats in Middlesex County have the ability to discuss a record of achievement, their opponents can and should be asking questions of those in office. Regardless of anyone’s political affiliation, we should all respect those who step up to the plate and take part in a democratic system that seeks to provide checks and balances.






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