Hamilton Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer has filed two ethics complaints against a fellow Republican, Mayor Kelly Yaede, alleging improper actions regarding the township’s embattled animal shelter.
Local political insiders says that allegations regarding the shelter, which include an extraordinarily high kill rate, are likely to emerge as issues in the 2019 local elections when Yaede, Schirmer and Republican Ralph Mastrangelo are up for re-election. Democrats won three council seats in 2017 and now have a 3-2 majority on the council.
Schirmer claims that Yaede used a taxpayer-funded website to address a personnel issue dealing with the shelter and to attack the Democratic councilmen, and that mayor failed to notify the council of a surprise state inspection of the shelter that occurred the day before the governing body was scheduled to hold public hearing on the issue. The hearing was cancelled at the last minute after the council became aware of serious allegations made about the shelter by a former employee.
In a post that has now been removed, Yaede accused the three Democratic councilmen of “using helpless shelter pets as their ‘political pawns.”
“I have never seen a mayor attack their own council members on taxpayer funded township website. I’m not saying it has never happened, I personally haven’t seen it. Every mayor I have spoken to in New Jersey that I know have said they were shocked by what Mayor Yaede chose to do,” Schirmer said in her complaint. “To take an internal employee issue and turn it into a media spectacle is unprofessional and, in my opinion, completely unethical.”
The controversy belies a deep split between Yaede and Schirmer.
“The mayor thinks she is above the law,” Schirmer said. “She behaved totally on emotion. “I personally don’t want anything to do with her. You have to agree with her or you’re out.”
Schirmer said that Yaede did nothing to help her in her 2017 campaign to unseat State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro). She said the mayor refused to endorse her, refused to share a campaign headquarters with her, and told municipal officials not to attend her fundraiser. Greenstein carried Hamilton by more than 2,300 votes.
“She and I don’t get along,” Schirmer said.
Yaede did not respond to a Friday afternoon telephone call seeking comment.Schirmer Yaede complaint