The four Republican candidates for Township Council support a proposed ordinance seeking to ban so-called pay-to-play practices in the township.
Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee released a statement this week stating its four candidates—Sam Garro, Ted Liddell, Linda Musser and Erica Weissmann—"will place a pay-to-play ordinance on the agenda in January upon election to Gloucester Township Council."
"It is quite evident that this practice is alive and well in our township and needs to be stopped. The amount of money funneled through the various PACs and Democratic Committee presents a conflict of interest when awarding contracts and no-bid contracts," the GTRMC statement reads. "A large percentage of contracts awarded in the township have been given to campaign contributors, which, as a result, is abandoning businesses in the township that are capable of performing the same work."
For the second public Council meeting in a row, Council President Glen Bianchini stated Monday night that he is not in a rush to move the ordinance onto the Council agenda.
"We're still researching it," he said. "I don't have a timeline as of yet."
South Jersey Citizens, the watchdog group that has been pushing for the ordinance since May, was "about halfway" to its goal for petition signatures as of Monday night, according to Joshua Berry, the group's political director.
SJC would need about 1,750 township residents' signatures, amounting to 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last odd-numbered year general election, to force Council to vote on the measure, which can be viewed here. It would need about 2,625 voters' signatures to have the ordinance put on a ballot—SJC's ultimate goal, if necessary.
Following the meeting, Bianchini noted that less than 20 percent of New Jersey's 566 municipalities have adopted the ordinance, which goes a few steps beyond the state pay-to-play law passed in 2004.
He rejected the opinion of SJC members and Republicans that he is stalling on introducing the ordinance because he is up for re-election in November, and argued there is transparency in Gloucester Township government.
"The whole story hasn't been told. ... We need to look into it," Bianchini said. "They (SJC members) know exactly what we do. They know who's contributing to us."
In Camden County, 13 of 37 towns, including Cherry Hill Township, have adopted some form of pay-to-play ban.
"It just seems like it's taking an awful long time to get this on the agenda," SJC member Beth Holzman said to Bianchini. "My concern is that it's just going to kind of go away or it's just going to take awhile."
Meanwhile, the Republican candidates collectively are clamoring that "the days of backroom deals need to come to an end."
Bianchini is joined on the Democratic Council slate by current Council Vice President Orlando Mercado, Tracey Trotto and Sam Siler.
Also seeking a Council seat is independent candidate Darren Gladden.