Home Government Elections Final Stretch of Brick Mayoral Race Focuses on Town Hall Staffing

Final Stretch of Brick Mayoral Race Focuses on Town Hall Staffing

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John Ducey (D) and Ruthanne Scaturro (R). (File Photos)
John Ducey (D) and Ruthanne Scaturro (R). (File Photos)

Campaign literature has painted two differing pictures of Brick Township government in 2017. Depending which side’s numerous mailers a resident is reading, the township is portrayed as a municipality that has added police officers and building inspectors while cutting taxes, or a bloated local government subject to patronage hires.

Mayor John Ducey, a Democrat, is running for a second term against former GOP Councilwoman Ruthanne Scaturro. The Democrats’ ads have keyed in on tax hikes approved during the time Scaturro served on the council, while the Republicans have accused Ducey of going back on a promise not to accept taxpayer-funded health benefits and quietly increasing his salary.

When Ducey took office in 2014, he took 75 percent of the $52,000 mayoral salary. In 2016, he increased his salary to the full amount after calculating the number of hours he spends per week on township business, and the effect it has had on his own income as a local attorney, he told Shorebeat.

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“After my first two years, I realized how many hours I was putting in, and it was full-time status,” said Ducey. “For the first two years, I did take less, but based on the hours and time, I went to what the salary should be.”

Ducey also said he inherited a municipal government that had no building inspectors, as a previous agreement the township had to share inspection services with Toms River ended – at Toms River’s choosing – the day before he took office.

“We had to hire all of our inspectors,” said Ducey. “When I came in, we didn’t have any inspectors at all.”

The township also added police officers under Ducey’s watch, however several are special officers, who draw lower salaries than full-time sworn officers and are being used to cut overtime and perform lower-level tasks such as booking arrestees. Previously, full-time officers performed those duties as part of their jobs or drawing overtime. The administration has said more police officers are now able to be on the street since the special officers are undertaking the tasks at headquarters.

Scaturro, however, has said that the township added a total of 51 employees – too many, in her opinion – including some who “were directly involved in his campaign.”

“He touts that he got rid of nine patronage jobs, but then he’s hiring all of these other people,” said Scaturro, who also took aim at the hiring of John Clifford as the township’s Chief Financial Officer. After Clifford was hired, news broke that he had previously declared bankruptcy, and he was quietly ousted from the position and hired as the CFO of the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority at a higher salary. The township also hired Jon Salonis, a Democratic campaign operative to two positions in town.

But Ducey, as well as his team, were largely swept into office out of public frustration with patronage scandals that made headlines while Republicans controlled the mayor’s office and council. Most notably, former Mayor Stephen Acropolis hired a Toms River GOP official, Juan Bellu, as the township’s deputy business administrator, around the same time Acropolis was hired as executive director of the Toms River MUA, where Bellu served as a commissioner.

Scaturro said she would accept the mayoral salary but would not take a health benefits package if elected.

“I didn’t take benefits when I was a council person and I won’t take them now,” Scaturro said, indicating the mayoral job would be her only job since she has retired from her former employer.

Scaturro’s ticket includes council candidates Marilyn Lago, John Ciocco and Lois Turner, none of whom have previously held elected office. Ducey’s ticket includes incumbent council members Marianna Pontoriero, Paul Mummolo and Heather deJong.

If any of the GOP candidates win Tuesday’s election, it will be the first time any member of their party has been victorious this decade.

Anthony Matthews, a former Republican councilman who served alongside Scaturro, as well as Robert Canfield are running independent campaigns.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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  • Let’s Roll

    I’m with Her! We need more women in politics. No more old white privileged men! Im with Her! Ruthanne for Mayor! Don’t be a racist, sexist, misogynist! Vote for Her!

    • 205167117

      You should probably get that apostrophe out of your name if you want to be taken seriously by anyone that understands the proper use of punctuation.

      Let’s Roll would mean Let is possessing Roll or you’re combining Let is into Let’s.

      Now you’ll be much better off at suggesting her opponents are the scum of the earth.

      • Don Casual

        Sorry, 205167117…
        The role the apostrophe plays in punctuation goes far beyond simple possession.
        It is often used in the contraction (pulling together) of two words such as “Let us” where the ‘u’ in “us” is yanked out and replaced with an apostrophe (Let’s = Let us).
        Sorry, Let’s Roll…
        Dumping misogyny in there to equate with racism is a cheap shot.
        In fact, basing political preference on the sex of the candidate is probably easy for you. It doesn’t* require any hard thinking.
        *”doesn’t” = does not.

      • 205167117

        “you’re combining Let is into Let’s.”

        Finishing reading and you’ll see I pointed that out although it’s still not a word and makes no sense.

        You seem to think I’m the one that said anything about racism, sexism or misogyny. That was stated in the original post and frankly it’s the reason I said anything about the silly mistake they’ve been posting as for who knows how long.

        Finish reading a post before you take the time to reply and have a good understanding of who it is you’ve actually got the problem with.

      • Don Casual

        205167117,
        ditto.

      • Let’s Roll

        I was being facetious.

      • Let’s Roll

        https://mobile.nytimes.com/2002/01/02/opinion/let-s-roll.html

        Hey doofus, you should apply for the copy editor job at the NY Times. They use Let’s Roll with the apostrophe.

      • 205167117

        It’s a case of the masses saying “I could care less” when it’s actually “I couldn’t care less”. Just because the masses use it doesn’t mean it’s correct.

        Look into it. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Especially with it being used as a name.

      • Let’s Roll

        I couldn’t care less what you think.

      • 205167117

        Touche

  • Chief Wahoo

    So Ducey public taker, takes full time salary and health benefits paid by the broke taxpayers. Of course always with an excuse, Baby needs new shoes. You must be a Fool if you vote for this public taking lawyer.

    • 205167117

      There’s so much better material than pointing out he’s taking what he’s supposed to take.

      Don’t let politicians turn their wages into a talking point. We’re all paid to do jobs and none of us would work for free.

      The amount saved by the township in regards to salary or benefits is laughable and hardly a reason to pass judgement on someone.

      • Chief Wahoo

        Sure. Let’s just ignore what he said he would take BEFORE tricking everybody. Who cares about a man’s word being good. It’s 2017 and that stuff is for losers …

      • 205167117

        I agree about a man’s word but I also feel like announces you won’t take pay or benefits is like bribing the public. I don’t think it should be allowed. Everyone should be forced to take what is earmarked for them in the budget in order to avoid this.

        From what I’ve read his stance changed during the first reelection. I agree that if he ran on it then at the least he should have been more open when he reverted back.

        All I’m saying is the amount of money we’re talking about is trivial compared to the big picture.

        Honesty is honestly and I agree about trusting ones integrity. I just don’t think this is the issue to draw a line in the sand on.

      • Let’s Roll

        The chief doesn’t like liars and hypocrites. Neither do I. The taxpayers were promised by Fozman, Moore, Lydecker and Ducey that they would not take health benefits for part time elected positions. They promised no friends and family jobs. They mocked GOP for the empty Foodtown site. Its still empty 6 years later. They mocked GOP for raising taxes, but they kept spending the increase and even raised it so it was obviously need.
        Time for new blood…..again.

      • 205167117

        I didn’t know that being Mayor was a part time position. I don’t know the positions the others held.

        To my knowledge the Foodtown site is basically done with the sports complex coming in.

        Are you okay with how the Republican nomination went down? It’s hard for me to get behind someone that didn’t care to run in the Primary and certainly didn’t win it either.

      • Let’s Roll

        Mayor is part time job as is council. Look it up. The crook Scarpelli and his democrat council raised his pay a week after his election from $17,000 to $52,000 a year for part time job. That is how Scarpelli held 3 jobs at once. Business Administrator is high paying full time job because they really run the township operations along with the part time council. Mayor is a strong figure head. Jim McGreevey did same as Mayor of Woodbridge.

      • 205167117

        But is it really a part time position? I’d like to think a township of this size is a bit more than a 25 hour a week gig. Have the Republicans running claimed to take less and no benefits?

        I’d like to see people look at these positions as full time jobs and just take the salary and benefits. If they were classified as full time jobs then I think our town would benefit.

        It’s hard for me to think the time required to do the job is the same from town to town when ours is so big.

      • Let’s Roll

        Acropolis took no salary at all for at least 1 or 2 years.

      • 205167117

        Any idea about the Republicans currently running?

        Honestly I look at it as bribery. I don’t think it’s fair to the candidate that wants to put in the time but needs the salary for bills. To ask someone to work a full time job and then run the town seems to not benefit the town. I’d rather know that this is their priority.

      • Andy Pat

        but do not discount the fact that Acropolis leveraged this “noble act” into a 100K public job for himself for which he was/is completely unqualified

  • Let’s Roll

    Ducey says he is not going to hire 1000 new employees to work for the township there bye saving the taxpayers $100,000,000.00

  • Gordon Jersey Dreher

    If I was mayor it would be an honor.NOT a job.To be able to help all the citizens in our town is enough payment.

  • Andy Pat

    In this article it states ” Scaturro, who also took aim at the hiring of John Clifford as the township’s Chief Financial Officer. After Clifford was hired, news broke that he had previously declared bankruptcy, and he was quietly ousted from the position and hired as the CFO of the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority at a higher salary.”
    She knows nothing of the circumstances that led to this bankruptcy, yet uses it to slur the individual and also goes on to lie regarding the circumstances of his leaving the town. But she supports the POS in the WH who has multiple bankruptcies ! So glad she lost!