VENTNOR — Mayor Mike Bagnell is disputing allegations made against him in a letter mailed to Ventnor residents from a group working to have him recalled.
The group — which calls itself “The Group of 20” and which Bagnell calls “The Angry 20” — is working to file a recall petition. They would need the signatures of 25 percent of Ventnor’s registered voters, or about 2,000 people.
They sent out a letter last month to rally residents in support of their effort, which listed allegations against the mayor, including mismanagement before and after Hurricane Sandy, cronyism and careless spending that is pushing the city into debt.
Bagnell said he wants to refute these claims, not only for the sake of his reputation, but for Ventnor’s reputation, which he feels is being tainted by this situation.
“The problem I see with (The Group of 20) is that because of their anger and hatred for me, people are going to turn away from Ventnor,” he said. “I’ve been told by Realtors that investors are looking to buy here, but now they’re seeing all of this going on and they’re saying, ‘What’s going on with your city?’ It’s scaring people away.”
He said the Group of 20 “consists of strong supporters of the past administration” who, in his opinion, are attacking him because they are bitter over their defeat.
The mayor specifically named Paula DeLuca, a main leader in The Group of 20, whose family was the top residential campaign contributor to the 2008 Theresa Kelly, John Piatt campaign. On Aug. 18, DeLuca hosted a community open house to discuss and organize the mayor’s recall.
The letter contradicts Bagnell on the political motive, stating, “Our effort is not about sour grapes from sore losers upset about the May 2012 election. If it were, it would target Commissioner (Frank) Sarno along with Bagnell. It doesn’t. This is about Ventnor. Our town not only deserves better than Bagnell at the helm, it absolutely needs better leadership.”
Bagnell said he believes every story has two sides and he hopes Ventnor residents listen to both.
“I hope the rest of the city isn’t willing to let 15 or 20 angry people determine how this city runs,” he said. “I hope they actually pay attention to the facts and not the emotional outbursts.”
Bagnell was elected to the Board of Commissioners in May 2012 and chosen mayor over former mayor Kelly, who is still on the commission.
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