EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — It did not go unnoticed that Tuesday’s Township Committee meeting marked the end of an era. It was the final meeting for Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough. While there was some official township business on the agenda for the evening, offering sincere best wishes and thank-yous to McCullough was the main attraction.

McCullough joked looking over the standing-room-only crowd that he did not expect so many people to come to the meeting just to make sure he was leaving.

He deferred much of the accolades of the evening with a smile and said much of his success came from working with the people who surround him.

“We always worked to do the best for our residents,” said McCullough. He credited township Administrator Peter Miller with 60 percent of his success in office. McCullough also praised township Engineer Jim Mott and called Solicitor Marc Friedman his consigliere for so many years and said he hoped they would continue to provide invaluable service to the township after he leaves.

Across his 32-year career, he shepherded Egg Harbor Township from a rural community of 17,000 to a sprawling residential and business hub that is home to 43,000.

One of the first up to offer their congratulations was Rick Dovey, chairman of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. Former EHT Board of Education President Jim Galvin thanked McCullough, as did Committeeman Frank Finnerty, who is also retiring effective Dec. 31, for their guidance during his tenure on the BOE.

Former school board member Justin Riggs thanked McCullough for getting him interested in politics and shared a story of the mayor inviting a then wide-eyed 13-year-old to play in a golf tournament.

“I owe my success to the mayor, and if I can be half as good as he has been, then I will be something,” said Riggs.

State Sen. Chris Brown lauded both McCullough and Finnerty and presented them with a proclamation from the state Senate honoring their years of service. Brown also took the opportunity to thank Finnerty for stepping in and helping him when Brown’s father, Chief Arthur Brown, died. He thanked McCullough for giving him his first break, naming him the township prosecutor when he returned from the Gulf War.

Rick Branca thanked McCullough for stepping up and making sure Ricci’s Law passed after his son was killed riding his bike by a drunken driver more than a decade ago.

Miller said he does not know what it will be like to come to work after the first of the year without McCullough there with him.

Incoming Committeemen Frank Balles and Andrew Parker both wished McCullough and Finnerty luck in retirement.

The committee voted Tuesday to reaffirm the township's public golf course would remain named McCullough's Emerald Links in the outgoing mayor's honor.

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