Westampton Dems bail on debate; GOP cries foul over suspect mailings

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Abe Lopez (left) and Maureen Glacken Smith-Hartman (right) via Facebook

Refusing to debate is bad enough. Crapping out at the last minute? That’s taking it to a different level.

Westampton Democrats Robert Thorpe and Vernita Jones cancelled on the League Of Women Voters at the 11th hour on Wednesday evening ahead of a bruising finale to this year’s municipal race, no-showing at the Rancocas Civic Association and leaving residents in attendance scratching their heads.

“This move by their campaign is symptomatic of their political regimes overall lack of transparency and numbness to the concept of public service,” Republicans Abe Lopez and Maureen Smith-Hartman declared in a joint statement. “We would like everyone to know that we promise to take a different approach for a better Westampton. We want to serve our community and run an efficient, responsive local government.”

It’s been a brutal battle from day one in this traditionally blue town, one where Chris Christie narrowly won in 2013 but Barack Obama romped with 67.9% one year earlier, amped-up by the resignation of one incumbent Democrat candidate from the ticket; most recently, Mayor Carolyn Chang flipped out (no exaggeration) on her opponents at a public meeting. Republicans hope to capitalize on a favorable turnout model and a strong county-wide effort for the GOP ticket but, as always, Democrats fight a lot better than they govern.

Here’s a last-minute mailer designed to look like it came from the local fire department when, in fact, the truth behind this Big Labor piece is a little more complicated:

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Public sector unions have stayed with the Dems this year by-and-large in Burlco whereas some private sector “building trades” unions are going Republican in part owing to the presence of Kate Gibbs, head of Business Development for the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative of Local 825, on the freeholder slate with former Navy SEAL Ryan Peters. The mailer reproduced above makes reference to this story, by the way, which suffice it to say for this post catalyzed the resigned Democrat candidate’s departure from the race. 

Like I said… a lot happening in Burlington this cycle!

What’s more, while we’re on the subject of mailers, the GOP challengers have accused Thorpe and Jones of violating New Jersey campaign regulations by allegedly failing to provide proper “paid for” disclaimers on advertisements AND allegedly violating the “90-day rule” preventing incumbent candidates from spending tax dollars on public mailings touting themselves within 90-days of an election:

westampton paper


The clear no-no? Using the Air Force seal:


“It’s time for the authorities to step in and stop this,” added Lopez, responding to the mailings. “These laws were put in place for a reason. Someone must hold political campaigns accountable, or else they will have free reign to run exactly the kind of campaign that Thorpe, Jones and the Westampton political machine are running. They are hiding their campaign contributors, spending taxpayer money on their re-election campaign, and effectively ignoring campaign finance reporting requirements.  I am formally demanding the Election Law Enforcement step in here on behalf of the people of Westampton.”

Stay tuned for a big finish.


4 thoughts on “Westampton Dems bail on debate; GOP cries foul over suspect mailings

  1. I received a postcard today from Mr. Dan Norman, President of the Burlington County Professional Firefighters Association Local 3091. Before responding to Mr. Norman’s defense of Mr. Jason Carty, Westampton Township Emergency Services Director, I want to thank him and every firefighter and EMS personnel for their heroism and selfless devotion to our communities and their brothers and sisters on the line. I also want him and every other member of the fire service to know that my appreciation for them has been heightened by my wife’s and my pride in our son having served in both a firefighter and EMS capacity. Our son served with those great firefighters in the WTES in town. I’d like to share a couple of experiences that define our affection for these men and women; on a fire call, our son was involved in an incident in which an out of control fire hose was slashing about at full water pressure; one of his teammates was hit by the business end of that hose, knocking him to the ground. Our son instinctively dived on top of him to protect him; unfortunately, that same hose hit his (helmeted) head, rendering him unconscious. He has also witnessed senseless death when he went on an EMS call where he and his colleagues attempted to revive a gunshot victim. I share this to strongly emphasize the importance of properly trained, and as importantly managed emergency services personnel. Mr. Norman’s defense of Mr. Carty is understandable and I respect him for this; however, the facts do not lie. Mr. Carty is NOT qualified to be Fire Chief of WTES. According to the Fire Chief job description, Mr Carty fails the first and third criteria under Desired Minimum Qualifications, e.g., he does not possess a college degree nor has he attained the status of Fire Officer I. Furthermore, the current Westampton Township Committee NEVER subjected Mr. Carty to a complete background check, an astonishing fact when considering an individual for such a critical, public safety position. A copy of these qualifications is available for the public to view. Our son is no longer in the emergency services field; he is currently an airline pilot, but what he learned during his tenure at WTES, i.e., composure, discipline, camaraderie and steadiness under extreme pressure he takes to the cockpit every day. Both jobs are equally important and demand the most qualified individuals to ensure the safety of our citizens. Based on the facts of Mr. Carty’s hiring and the lack of thorough investigation of credentials and personal background, it is the obligation of Mr. Lopez and Ms. Smith-Hartman to demand an explanation from Mr. Thorpe and Ms. Jones as to why they would support a contract extension to an individual who remains unqualified to hold this position and why the Township Committee would hire Mr. Carty, knowing that he did not meet these qualifications, let alone conducting a background check; isn’t this the political gamesmanship by this Committee that is really at play here?

  2. You forgot to make mention that you are and/or were the campaign manager for the Republicans who are running for office in Westampton this year. I would think that makes your response to this story and your dislike for Chief Carty a little one sided.

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