HAMMONTON — The independent Hammonton First party will introduce its three candidates for Town Council at a free campaign kickoff party May 19 at The Alley Bar & Grille in Hammonton, President Jim Donio said.

They will run on a ticket with Mayor Steve DiDonato, the only Hammonton First member up for re-election. He acknowledged he is running for another four-year term. This will be his first re-election campaign since being elected mayor in 2009.

The event is also an opportunity to sign up volunteers for the campaign, which will intensify leading up to the November election, Donio said.

“We started as a big grassroots organization nine years ago, and still have a strong volunteer base,” Donio said, adding that teens interested in campaigns can join the effort. “We definitely work with any age or experience level.”

The Hammonton First candidates will run for two-year terms against Republican Town Council members Anni Carpo, Steve Furgione and Mickey Pullia, who are running on a ticket with Hammonton School Board President Joe Giralo for mayor. Pullia was first elected in 2009 for on the Hammonton First ticket, but recently switched allegiance to the GOP.

No Democrats are running for election.

Donio said the Hammonton First slate wants to debate the Republican slate, preferably more than once, and hopes an independent community group will offer to host such debates.

DiDonato said his campaign will focus on Hammonton’s growth under his leadership, including development of the White Horse Pike corridor and AtlantiCare’s medical facility there; the addition of a Richard Stockton College of New Jersey instructional site downtown, as well as many small businesses opening there; and the opening of the New Jersey Manufacturer’s campus on Route 54.

“A lot of positive things have happened in my term,” DiDonato said, “at a time when a lot of communities have experienced a downturn.”

Hammonton First was formed in 2005 by a coalition of Independents, Republicans and Democrats. Its candidates have been controlling the mayorship and Town Council since then. Before Steve DiDonato was mayor, his brother, John DiDonato, held the job for one term.

Donio said the group’s success has included securing millions of dollars in grants to fix roads and sidewalks throughout town; fixing pollution problems in the town water supply; expanding arts, culture, recreational and senior services; and bringing fiscal responsibility to town government.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

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