About a dozen Ventnor residents gathered in Paula DeLuca’s Ventnor Heights dining room, where they snacked on grapes and cheese while discussing their shared interest in recalling Mayor Michael Bagnell.
Balloons were tied around the front railing and the front door was ajar, inviting people to let themselves in.
DeLuca, a trustee and secretary of the citizens group We Love Ventnor, hosted an open house Sunday for residents to ask questions, meet like-minded people and decide if they want to join the effort to recall Bagnell.
“I don’t want to see this recall effort flop,” DeLuca said to the group.
Earlier this month, DeLuca and those involved in the recall effort — including Ventnor Concerned Citizens members Linda Kaplan, Phyllis Antosca, Sonia Loadenthal — sent a letter and survey to Ventnor residents asking their opinions on whether to recall the mayor. The letter included several allegations against Bagnell, who was elected to the Board of Commissioners in May 2012 along with running mate Frank Sarno and was chosen mayor over former mayor Theresa Kelly, a city commissioner.
The letter labeled Bagnell’s selection of his “campaign manager” Tom Quirk as Ventnor management specialist “cronyism;” alleged that Amy Weintrob's selection as solicitor was a “political IOU” to her father, former Commissioner Steve Weintrob; and criticized Bagnell's selection of his “friend for 40 years” Charles Sabatini as engineer. It also cited what the group claimed was improper planning before and during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
Bagnell has disputed many of the allegations in the letter.
The letter asked Ventnor residents if they would like to be considered as a candidate for office or if they have anyone they would like to nominate.
“Joe McDevitt’s name has come up multiple times, as has Mike Carr’s, since he’s been a outspoken critic,” DeLuca said. “We have yet to approach anyone or do any screenings.”
The group’s next step is to file a recall petition, which would require signatures of 25 percent of Ventnor’s registered voters, or about 2,000 people, to move forward with the recall.
At that time, they will also need to name a replacement candidate.
Their hope is to tie the recall into a scheduled election, as opposed to a holding a special election. Their deadline to do so would get triggered once the recall petition is filed.
“Our tick, tick, tick starts with the filing on the petition,” DeLuca said.
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