Monday, October 29, 2007

Matawan’s Mayoral Election

For the past two years, Mayor Mary Aufseeser has accomplished virtually nothing except to anger people on both sides of the political aisle. She is challenged by Councilman Paul Buccellato, an architect with unsavory ties to Monmouth County’s Republican machine. The mayoral election is like deciding whether the benefits of a medication outweigh its side effects. In this instance, I believe it does. I therefore endorse Paul Buccellato for mayor.

No one can rightfully argue that Mayor Aufseeser is deserving of another term. Shortly after ending decades of Republican control in Matawan, one of her first public acts was to fight for, and lose, awarding borough business to Peter Carton, a GOP party boss from Middletown.

That appears to be Mayor Aufseeser’s last political fight. Since then she has done nothing. Worse, she lacks the political courage to even take a position. Consider the following list: Property taxes, revitalizing the downtown area, the Transit Village Project, illegal immigrants on Main St., the Matawan Water Plant, and renovations at the community municipal center. Now, try naming a single issue in which Mayor Aufseeser has taken a leadership role.

Instead, she has embroiled herself in minor scandals, including the recent “disappearances” of the $25,000 Main Street Revitalization Study and her work laptop that was then replaced by a new $1,900 laptop.

During this same period, Councilman Buccellato has been the de facto opposition leader and taken strong positions on several issues. Unfortunately, I find we’re often in disagreement. I oppose the Transit Village Project and believe his idea to have the local police issue ID cards to illegal aliens is plain silly.

Additionally, Councilman Buccellato is tainted by his strong “business” ties to county Republican leaders. For example, after donating $3,900 to the Monmouth County Republican Committee, his firm, Henshell & Buccellato, received a $25,000 contract from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders for providing “call-in professional architectural services”. Another issue is his push for the Columbia Group to lead development at the train station. The Columbia Group is led by Jack Morris, a major bankroller of county Republicans.

Pay-to-play has long been the norm in Monmouth County and should no longer be tolerated. But Councilman Buccellato has not violated any legal or ethical standards. Though he may not be the perfect candidate, Matawan has too many pressing issues to re-elect a do-nothing mayor. I endorse Paul Buccellato for Mayor.
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