Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky, who was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday with a group of mayors for a meeting with President Donald Trump, was appointed to a three-year term as Cape May County’s representative on the Pinelands Commission at a freeholder meeting Tuesday.
Some environmentalists questioned why the process for choosing a new commissioner wasn’t more open and transparent, and why a new voice and perspective wasn’t sought for the position.
Camden County also recently appointed Jordan Howell, of Haddon Township, its new Pinelands commissioner. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability at Rowan University and the program coordinator for environmental and sustainability studies.
Howell replaces Edward McGlinchey, of Winslow Township, who resigned last year, saying he was moving to Atlantic County.
However, there is controversy about how long McGlinchey has lived outside of Camden County. Documents surfaced showing he told a disaster relief program he was living in Atlantic County before Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 in order to qualify for a $130,000 grant to repair and lift a shore home.
Pikolycky is in his 28th year as Woodbine’s mayor. He replaces William Brown, of Marmora in Upper Township, who resigned last year after 36 years on the commission.
An independent, Pikolycky was chosen from seven applicants because his municipality is in the Pinelands and he has long experience with the commission and as a member of the Pinelands Municipal Council, county spokeswoman Diane Wieland said Wednesday.
Cape May County business marketer, environmentalist and outdoors enthusiast Martha Wright, of Avalon, said she applied to be the county’s Pinelands commissioner and never got a response to her application. On Wednesday, she questioned how the selection was made, saying she felt the process should be more transparent.
“I don’t want to criticize the individual. I want to criticize the process,” said Wright, who said she and two other environmentalists attended Tuesday’s freeholder meeting to bring up their concerns about transparency. “I want to know who is getting picked, how they are picked, how others can contribute. I’m looking for diversity, a fresh perspective. It’s pretty pale, male and stale.”
Wright said the Cape May County website had no information about the position being open and how people could apply. She sent letters to freeholders and followed up with phone calls, but there wasn’t a clear or open process to follow.
Wieland said Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton, as liaison to the commission, reviewed the resumes and chose Pikolycky. Then the full freeholder board voted.
“That one basically stood out,” Wieland said of Pikolycky’s resume. “He’s an independent voice — definitely someone who has a dire interest in protecting the Pinelands.”
Pikolycky was re-elected last year to serve on the executive board of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, to the board of directors of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, and to continue as chair of the Pinelands Municipal Council.
The commission is a 15-member independent state agency charged with protecting the Pinelands and encouraging compatible economic and human activities.
The seven counties that are in the Pinelands each appoint one commissioner, while the governor appoints another seven, and the federal Department of the Interior appoints one.