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Cookouts, Parades, Beaches and …. Politics?

May 28, 2010

David Von Savage

We are on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.  The lucky people from Camden County will find themselves migrating  to Stone Harbor, Avalon, the Wildwoods, Ocean City,  or some other beach destination in Cape May County. 

For those who “need” politics wherever you go or are just curious about “out of county” politics I am sharing a letter from my friend and Cape May County Republican Chairman, David Von Savage.  Chairman Von Savage and the Cape May Republican Freeholder Board have the lowest county tax rate in New Jersey.    

To the Editor:
I have just had the opportunity to read Martin Pagliughi’s letter to the editor recently posted online with the Herald.  Whether Mr. Pagulighi’s misrepresentations are intentional for the purpose of misleading the voters for his own personal reasons, or just simply due to his ignorance of the facts, it really doesn’t matter.
However, what does very much matter to me is that the record be set straight in order that our county Republican voters have the correct information to make a truly informed decision for this June 8th Primary Election. Equally important to me is that the record be corrected to ensure that the reputations of our county Republican officials and committee members are not further maligned by these irresponsible and grossly misleading statements or the attacks from Messrs. Thornton and Pagluighi.
The purpose of the County Republican Organization is to campaign for the election of worthy Republicans so as to promote the kind of good government that benefits all the taxpayers. Cape May County, under the fiscally conservative leadership of Freeholder Director Dan Beyel, has the lowest tax rate of any county in the entire state of New Jersey
In 2008, the Cape May County government was voted the Number One Rural County in the entire nation by National Association of Counties; there are 3,140 counties is America.
One of the main reasons for this great honor is that our county has consistently been governed by conservative Republicans on the Freeholder Board, responsible Republican constitutional offices with our Republican County Clerk Rita Fulginiti, Republican Surrogate and Republican sheriff. 
In our upcoming June 8th Republican Primary, I am proud to be working to help re-elect Freeholder Ralph Bakely and newcomer freeholder candidate John McCann, a longtime Ocean City businessman. In normal circumstances, I would prefer to let the people’s vote speak for itself and simply state that the county committee members believed that it was time for a change. Having determined that three and one-half decades was enough for any politician, a significant majority of committee members voted to give another qualified individual the opportunity to do the job. 
The attacks and distortions have been relentless and it is time to set the record straight as to why the vast majority of the county organization did not feel that Jerry Thornton deserved another chance at three years in office.
First of all, whether it was because he was feeling some criticism by the freeholders for his spending or maybe he was just plain bored with the work, Jerry was not really committed to the freeholder position any longer. Behind the scenes, he was making serious inquiries into how he could either get the county clerk position or the Lower Township manager position. The irony of Mr. Pagluighi talking about backroom deals is that Avalon’s own public information director, Scott Wahl, once reported for the Gazette Leader News that “Thornton made a comment about wanting the clerk’s job for a better pension … it looks like a backroom political deal…the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for salaries and lucrative benefits.”   
Again, whether Thornton’s desire to get another political position was because of job dissatisfaction or a way to increase his pension pay, either way, it did not make for the kind of enthusiasm or dedication required when one has the honor of such an elected position.    
Secondly, the rest of the County Freeholder Board had lost confidence in his ability to responsibly manage and be fiscally disciplined in the areas he was assigned as was necessary to keep the county tax rate low.  In a report prepared by Technical Analysis For Government in 2009, it was determined that our county nursing home, specifically under Thornton’s direction, was losing about 3.4 million dollars a year. 
Furthermore, again, under his direction, our county Home Health Agency lost close to $800,000 each year (Tax Force Review Study, 2010) . The choice was simple: if the Republican Cape May County Freeholder Board was to continue to provide the lowest tax rate of any county in the state, it simply could not afford to keep Thornton in a position where he would not control spending and for which he no longer had the interest.
Before closing, I also need to address the irresponsible and malicious allegations of “arm-twisting” of county committee members and “jobs of hardworking public servants” being “threatened”. That type of behavior is illegal, immoral and will never be tolerated under any circumstances.  If there is any credible instance of such actions, I strongly encourage Mr. Pagliughi to bring his evidence out in the open, in court, and I will wholeheartedly join him in denouncing and putting an end to such acts. 
Mr. Paglughi is well aware of my feelings and my record about any kind of strong arm tactics — he personally knows that back in 1994, before I was elected chairman, I publicly came to his wife’s defense and helped her retain good legal representation when she was wrongfully terminated as a county worker because of a hard-fought political campaign to get Frank LoBiondo elected Congressman.   
Pagluighi and Thornton’s current posturing on the nomination process reeks of sour grapes. When he won the nomination, Jerry Thorton never once complained about the process and in fact called the Cape May County Regular Republican Organization the “best in the state” during his last election cycle. When Jerry first became freeholder, his nomination process consisted of a “show of hands” by the sixteen municipal leaders. If anything, since becoming chairman, I have upheld the democratic nature of the nomination process and preserved the integrity of the municipal caucus and deliberation process whereby each town decides according to their own by-laws and customs on how they will vote for the county nominees. For example, in Ocean City, Upper Middle and Lower Townships, the leaders held a closed ballot process whereby committee member votes were written and then tallied.
Furthermore, and not surprisingly, I have never heard Mr. Pagluighi complain once about this exact same nominating process which has given his wife the position of Republican State Committeewoman for the past twenty years. By Thonrton and Pagluighi’s rules, if you win the nomination, the process is good; if you lose the nomination, then the process is “flawed’.   
And finally, I would be remiss if I did not ask for a public apology from Freeholder Thornton and Mr. Pagliughi for the ingratitude that they are exhibiting to the very committee people who worked so hard to help Jerry Thornton get elected to Freeholder throughout his many campaigns. I would have hoped after three and a half decades of being fortunate enough to be nominated as freeholder by the county committee members, and to have served on the County Election Board, that Jerry Thornton would have been a much more gracious loser. Almost any other elected official after losing the committee vote, would have said thank you very much to all the committee members and leaders for all their support over the years, sorry it didn’t work out this time, I had a good run, and best of luck to the winning nominee. Unfortunately, Thorton’s conscious and deliberate attempts to rip apart the very people who helped him along the way is a sad but accurate confirmation of the committee’s vote that it was time for him to finally go.
I urge all Republican voters to come out on June 8th and vote straight Republican, Column One, from Frank LoBiondo on down.  Ralph Bakely and John McCann are men of good character who will serve Cape May County well on the Freeholder Board with Dir. Beyel, Vice Dir. Sheets and Freeholder Desiderio.  They are committed to fiscal discipline, maintaining the lowest tax rate in New Jersey and providing quality and efficient services to our community. They consider the opportunity to serve you as Freeholders as an honor and a privilege, rather than merely a position that they are “entitled” to in Cape May County.   
Very truly yours,
David I. Von Savage
Chairman, CMCRRO
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