EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Longtime Republican Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough, who retires from politics this month, wasn’t afraid to buck the power structure in his own party or reach across the aisle.

“I always thought Sonny was a person I could work with and get something done,” said Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo. “He was always fair to me. That’s rare today in this type of climate.”

McCullough, 76, is moving to the Ocean Club in Atlantic City next year after more than 30 years in office in the township, 29 of them as mayor. The last township meeting he’ll officiate at will be Tuesday night.

As mayor, he oversaw the township’s explosion from a quiet rural area to a sprawling residential and commercial center, providing housing to a new casino industry. The township population more than doubled, from almost 19,000 in 1980 as casinos were just getting started to 43,000 today.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, who is also retiring from politics this month, credits McCullough with helping him get elected when he faced off against the much better known and powerful Republican state Senator William Gormley in the GOP primary for the seat in 1994.

“When I was first running, nobody in Atlantic County knew me,” said LoBiondo, who grew up in Cumberland County.

He said McCullough introduced him around Atlantic County, which was important since that’s where most of the 2nd Congressional District’s votes come from.

“He took the flack and heat from Gormley,” said LoBiondo. “It was a bitter primary in 1994.”

McCullough was an interim state senator for about a year in 2007, having succeeded Gormley after he announced he was stepping down in February 2007.