GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The Democratic Restore Galloway Team said they have concerns about Republican Mayor Don Purdy’s “cozy relationship” with Richard Stockton College President Herman Saatkamp.
Purdy shot back Friday, saying the Restore Galloway Team’s gutter politics have no place in the township.
“Galloway Democrats Jim McElwee, Bill Montag, Cliff Sudler and Mike Suleiman have personally attacked my small business and my family, and now they are attempting to smear the reputation of Stockton College President Herman Saatkamp — a man who is beyond reproach and doesn’t deserve to be dragged into their sleazy political attacks,” Purdy said.
The concerns were raised by the Democratic ticket after allegations that Saatkamp attended a recent fundraiser for Purdy that came with a ticket cost of $300 per person.
Purdy said Saatkamp attended the fundraiser as a complimentary guest. Saatkamp has no role in the campaign and has always strived to stay above partisan politics, Purdy said.
Stockton spokeswoman Sharon E. Schulman said Saatkamp, who is a township resident, did attend Purdy’s event, as he does for many local and state events when invited by either political party and when his schedule allows.
Saatkamp does not pay to attend these events, and it is an opportunity for candidates to learn about Stockton and its impact on the area, Schulman wrote in an email Friday.
At times, candidates come to talk with Saatkamp for the same purpose, and he is pleased to make himself available, she added.
Incumbent Councilman McElwee, along with Montag, Sudler and Suleiman, have also taken issue with the businesses that Purdy owns doing vehicle repair work for the college.
Schulman wrote in an email that Purdy Automotive is one of the contractors the institution uses for vehicle work, but not the only one. Not all contractors are approved for state contract pricing, and Purdy Automotive is, she said.
Purdy said that his local auto body and towing company did work for Stockton before he ever ran for office.
In a statement from the Restore Galloway Team, Councilmen Jim Gorman and McElwee also questioned the progress of renewing the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Stockton in January. The agreement has yet to be renewed, the pair stated.
“We need elected officials who are interested in public service, not self-service. How can Stockton and the Purdy administration objectively negotiate on matters like a PILOT agreement?” the ticket said in a statement this week.
Schulman said Friday the existing PILOT agreement is in effect until January 2014 and has been paid. A meeting was held last January, and a new PILOT reflecting an increase was negotiated and agreed upon, Schulman wrote. The college is now awaiting the paperwork by 2014, she said.
“If they wanted to salvage some measure of respect, they should apologize to President Saatkamp immediately and start talking about ways they want to build Galloway up, not tear everyone down,” Purdy said of the Restore Galloway Team.
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