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Van Drew, Grossman's differences speak loudly at Stockton debate

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The debate between Jeff Van Drew and Seth Grossman at Stockton University offered two very different road maps to federal representation for South Jersey residents in the 2nd Congressional District.

Grossman, a Republican, stuck to the staunch conservatism that has defined his campaign and said he is in the race to support President Donald Trump and “expose the fake news” he says is threatening to shut down the president’s agenda.

He criticized Van Drew for being a “career politician,” arguing career politicians are to blame for the troubles the country and the state face.

“I am here to support president Trump and expose and fight against the fake news that stands in his way and recently in the way of (Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh,” Grossman said. “The reason New Jersey’s economy hasn’t followed the national economic boom is because of mistakes made by politicians like Jeff Van Drew and (former Gov.) Chris Christie.”

Van Drew, the Democrat, defended his record as a moderate while serving in Dennis Township, on the Cape May County freeholder board and in Trenton and said a candidate who has worked his way up from being mayor of a small township to a state senator is a good choice to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

“We are at a flashpoint right now in our country,” Van Drew said. “What kind of America do we want to see in the future? Do we want to continue to see a reality TV show on the news every night?”

The candidates held completely different views on nearly every issue.

On climate change and sea-level rise, Van Drew said the country cannot waste any more time not dealing with the issues, and that residents in the district — which includes much of the Jersey Shore and Delaware Bay — are on the front lines of the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

Van Drew added he has a 120-foot-high wind turbine on his property as well as solar panels, signaling he is fully supportive of alternative energy.

Grossman, meanwhile, said people in South Jersey who are being affected by climate change or strong storms are people who “built expensive things in the wrong place using other people’s money.”

“The climate has been changing for thousands of years. Go back and ask Noah about that,” Grossman said. “I believe in American ingenuity. If someone comes up with an inexpensive form of alternative energy, then you don’t need the government to fund it. The market will take care of it.”

On immigration, Van Drew said the country must protect its border and humanely deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who are already here.

Grossman said any illegal immigrant who commits criminal acts, doesn’t learn English or isn’t adjusting to American life “needs to go.”

“Could you imagine crossing the border into North Korea and then asking for food stamps and housing?” Grossman said. “There has been a good start under President Trump (on immigration), and I am running for Congress to support him and his efforts.”

Both candidates had large contingents of supporters in the crowd who interrupted the debate several times by clapping or making comments out loud, despite being asked not to multiple times by moderator Mike Klein.

People from outside the district even ventured in to take part in the political process.

Greg Gerhartz, 64, of Edison, Middlesex County, wore a “Bikers for Trump” shirt to the debate and registered to vote for the first time in his life Tuesday.

He said he was there with friends to support Trump candidates.

“I’m here to support the agenda,” Gerhartz said. “I think Trump has done a great job and is trying to work for what is best for the people and for this country.”

NJ search and rescue team deploys to Alabama for Hurricane Michael

About a month after returning from the Carolinas for Hurricane Florence relief, New Jersey Task Force One has sent first responders south to assist with search and rescue as Hurricane Michael hits.

New Jersey State Police posted to its Facebook page that 47 members, 14 vehicles and six boats were deployed Tuesday night to Alabama as the Category 4 storm is expected to move across the country.

The task force, managed by the State Police and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, is headquartered in Wall Township, Monmouth County, and includes police, fire and emergency medical personnel who are trained in water rescue.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will reimburse the costs associated with the deployment, requested the state task force stage at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, State Police said.

Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 storm and made landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a major hurricane. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 mph, the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in nearly 50 years.

As Michael approaches closer to South Jersey, the area can expect to see some effects by Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, the storm will be offshore, likely exiting somewhere between Cape Hatteras and the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula. Rain and wind will continue for a short while Friday.

The quick-moving nature of the storm will prevent more severe impacts from occurring in South Jersey. In order of importance, here is what is expected.


Spotty road and stream flooding will be likely. That is why the National Weather Service has the region in a flash-flood watch from Thursday afternoon into early Friday morning. While the sandy soil of South Jersey mitigates flooding, the extremely wet weather makes it still a threat.

Roadway flooding would likely occur only in any heavy thunderstorms Thursday. The better potential for flooding would be Thursday night as Michael makes its closest approach.

Southern Ocean County, Cumberland County and Atlantic County west of the Garden State Parkway will see 1 to 2 inches of rain. Cape May County will see 3 inches. Localized thunderstorms Thursday can amplify totals.

Coastal flooding

The quick-moving nature of the storm means coastal flooding will not linger. However, minor coastal flooding will be expected for the Friday morning high tide. This may persist into Saturday for the back bays, which are notoriously slow to drain out.

Move your cars if you need to, as the first block or two of bayside roads may have water on them. North Wildwood, Ventnor, Atlantic City and Ocean City will need to pay special attention, as these are vulnerable spots.


Gusts in the 30s will be expected for much of the region. That will not be enough to cause damage. Cape May County should have a few gusts reach the 40s, though with sustained winds in the 20s. That will be enough to break small tree limbs and a few shingles off roofs, but no more than that.

A strong breeze will continue even after the rain ends. The sharp drop in humidity and falling temperatures will be accompanied by this strong, northwest wind.

St. Joseph coach Sacco suspended two games after video surfaces

HAMMONTON — St. Joseph High School suspended football coach Paul Sacco — the winningest coach in South Jersey history — for two games Wednesday after a video surfaced of St. Joe players using racial slurs at his house.

Several St. Joe players were also suspended.

Sacco could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

St. Joseph's Letter

The video was shot at Sacco’s Hammonton home. Sacco will not be allowed to host future team gatherings in private residences.

“Coach Paul Sacco should have been supervising the students at the time of the incident,” St. Joe President and Principal the Rev. Allain Caparas said in a statement.

The school did not specify how many players were suspended or their names. It also did not detail what the suspensions entailed.

“Those consequences will be proportionate to each student’s involvement,” Caparas said, “and will include suspensions from school, suspensions from games, community service and disciplinary probation for the remainder of the school year.”

St. Joe is one of the state’s premier football programs. The Wildcats have won 19 state titles since the state Non-Public playoffs began in 1993. St. Joe (5-1) is again one of the state’s best this season. Sacco, who is in his 37th season, is South Jersey’s winningest coach with 322 career victories.

The Wildcats hosts West Deptford on Saturday and then play at Timber Creek on Oct. 19.

The video was emailed to several Haddonfield and St. Joe administrators and media members Wednesday morning.

Caparas said he reached out to the principal of Haddonfield High School and apologized for the incident.

Larry White, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he had seen the video.

He said he forwarded it to all NJSIAA assistant directors and the organization’s attorney. The NJSIAA also forwarded it to the state Attorney General’s Office’s Civil Rights Division, an action required by the NJSIAA sportsmanship policy, which states that “trash talking” and other actions of ridicule will not be tolerated.

“It’s tremendously disappointing,” White said.

The NJSIAA has made it a policy not to tolerate any racial bias or slurs. But there have been a few high-profile racial incidents involving high school sports teams over the past few months.

“We’ve been preaching for how many years now about kids and putting stuff on social media,” White said. “But are schools doing anything about it? Are the coaches telling (athletes) about it? It doesn’t appear (so).”

The video was taken the night before St. Joe hosted Haddonfield on Sept. 29.

A black St. Joe player was seen on the video using the N-word. Another was heard using the phrase “white boy a” in reference to the Haddonfield quarterback.

Several St. Joe players of varying races could be seen hooting, hollering and cursing in the background.

The players were at Sacco’s Hammonton home. It is a longtime St. Joe tradition for the Wildcats to spend part of their Friday nights in Sacco’s basement, which is filled with St. Joe football memorabilia.

Sacco scouts future opponents with his assistant coaches Friday. His wife, Peggy, stays home with the players.

“This event is a reminder to all of our students, our staff and our school families that actions like this will not be tolerated,” Caparas said. “The language and tone contained in this video is completely contrary to the academics and spiritual tenets of our school and faith.”

Charles J. Olson  

St. Joseph’s head coach Paul Sacco Jr. addresses his team following the Wildcat’s 34-6 victory over Millville in Hammonton on Saturday, September 8, 2018. Photo/Charles J. Olson