GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — An effort is underway to collect about 6,500 signatures in the next 157 days to recall Councilman Robert Maldonado.
The recall campaign officially started Monday.
In a written response, Maldonado said negative campaigning surrounding the recall petition is what makes people on all sides disgusted by politics.
“The petition’s only purpose is to tarnish my reputation as a father, husband and a community leader. None of these allegations are true, and I have never personally benefited from my services to the township,” Maldonado wrote. “This petition is all about big-money benefit to Republicans.”
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The statement of the recall committee said Maldonado “violated the public’s trust and oath of office to impartially and justly perform all duties as councilman in Galloway Township.”
Among other things, Maldonado is accused of:
Unprofessional conduct and abuse of power in using his position as councilman to have a street in his neighborhood paved without prior consent, approval or abstention, and a South Jersey Gas contractor install two improvements on his personal property for personal gain under public funding.
Abuse of power in requesting services for personal gain from a vendor to whom he awarded a public contract. This is based on the allegation that then township Engineer Vince Polistina did Maldonado a personal favor by arranging for the use of a limousine for Maldonado’s daughter’s wedding, Coleman said.
A violation of the Open Public Meetings Act in a scheme to award contracts for professional appointments with public funding. This is based on the allegation that Maldonado was involved in collusion in awarding professional contracts prior to the township’s Jan. 2 reorganization meeting, Coleman said.
The group organizing the effort has until July 19 to collect the valid signatures from township residents, based on there being about 27,000 registered voters in the township, said Christopher Coleman, one of the three leaders of the Committee to Recall Robert Maldonado.
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If the required number of signatures is collected, voters will decide whether to recall Maldonado in November. Without the recall, his term will end Dec. 31, 2021.
Maldonado, who was once a Democrat but was voted onto Township Council as a Republican, switched alliances last month during the township’s reorganization meeting.
He voted to make Democrats Jim Gorman and Mary Crawford mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, even though Republican Mayor Anthony Coppola and Deputy Mayor Rich Clute were just re-elected in November.
Coleman told the council and the public during Tuesday’s meeting he would be waiting after the meeting to give anyone who wanted to sign the petition a chance to do so.
Maldonado told about 200 people in the standing-room-only meeting he would not step down from council voluntarily.
For 10 years, I have had the great honor of serving the people of Galloway Township on Towns…
Prior to the public comment portion of the meeting — which took about 90 minutes, compared with 15 minutes of official township business — Councilman Tony DiPietro entered a motion for the council to redo its reorganization. The measure was voted down along party lines for the second consecutive meeting.
The Republicans — Coppola, Clute and DiPietro — voted to hold the reorganization meeting again. The Democrats — Gorman, Crawford and Frank Santo — were joined by Maldonado in voting the measure down.