Yesterday I called for Dunkins to resign as Freeholder, considering the conflict he faces with the upcoming election. Hopefully the NJ Board of Elections will catch wind of this unethical move by Dunkins and the CCDO.
As reported in the AC Press yesterday:
On Aug. 16, Cumberland County Assistant County Counsel Kim Procopio wrote in a letter to Cumberland County Counsel Brendan Kavanagh that whoever is appointed to fill Magazzu’s seat – in this case, Thomas – does so on in interim basis “until the general election is held in November.”
“Following certification of that election, the person elected to the unexpired term is immediately sworn in and takes office,” Procopio wrote. “Unlike those persons elected for a full term, the person elected to the unexpired term does not await the reorganization meeting to take their seat.”
Dunkins said that, should he win, it is his understanding that he would not be sworn in to the last year of Magazzu’s seat until the freeholder board’s January reorganization meeting. Thomas will continue serving on an interim basis until that time, he said.
Our local papers have ignored this conflict. Perhaps they are as ignorant of the election as the CCDO hopes most voters are. This weekend I enjoyed a cigar and drinks on the back deck with my friend Haystacks Calhoun. We discussed Dunkin’s situation at length. His assessment is as follows:
I think there are two separate freeholder elections this year. In one, Whelan, Musso and Surace run against Farabella, Gonzalez and Taylor, with the top three vote getters being elected to full terms. In the other race, Dunkins is running against Gruccio, with the top vote getter being elected to the unexpired portion of Magazzu’s old seat.
Were Dunkins to beat Gruccio — a big if in my view — then he is in the dilemma of being elected to a freeholder seat while holding another freeholder seat. I suspect he will avoid a legal snag by simply resigning his current freeholder seat before being sworn in to his new freeholder seat. Thus, he would effectively switch to Charlie Thomas’s current seat, while his seat would remain vacant until the reorganization in January. It’s disingenuous for sure but I suspect it will pass legal muster. It would indeed mean the Ds give up a seat, leaving the board at 3 Ds-3 Rs until reorganization, when the board will go back to seven.
I suspect Dunkins cannot legally run for Magazzu’s seat while he currently holds his own seat. For Dunkins to be legally on the ballot, he should have resigned his current seat prior to running for a concurrent seat. Hopefully there will be complaints filed with the election board concerning this admittedly puzzling move by the CCDO.
I fail to understand the logic behind it, other than to be spoilers come November. Do they fear that they will lose seats and control, and are using this as a method to at the very least stalemate the Freeholder Board for a couple of months? That can be the only outcome with the current situation, even if they sweep. If they win all seats, Dunkins will be forced to immediately resign his current seat as Freeholder to be sworn in the day after election for Lou Magazzu’s vacant seat. Now you have a deadlock of three to three with an empty seat. Are they then planning to appoint Charlie Thomas again, to that seat for the remainder of the year?
And if that is the ulterior motive, then this is an affront to every taxpayer in the county that deserves to have the representation that they vote for. They have played fast and loose with the rules this entire season. First they hold a primary where the winner, Jane Jannarone turns around and quits, so that they can bring in Surace. Then Dunkins lies and says he is quitting so that he can spend time with his family and church, and turns around and runs for a seat that he already holds. Is this the sort ofleadership we want in the county? With our standing of being one of the most corrupt counties in the state, and most certainly the poorest county and continually getting poorer, we see the direct results of the CCDO control of this county for over three decades.
It is time to elect leaders that will give our jobs to Cumberland County residents, and not to Salem, Gloucester and Camden County benefactors.