Democratic freeholder candidates in Cape May County are taking aim at Republican incumbents after they voted to censure one of their own on Tuesday.
“I think what we’re witnessing on the freeholder board illustrates the overarching problems with one single party having complete control over government,” candidate Liz Casey said. “They’ve admitted that there’s rampant nepotism, unequal treatment of employees, and it’s an unfairness to our employees and the taxpayers of the county, who are the ultimate victims of this”
Earlier this week, incumbents approved two censures against Freeholder Marie Hayes, who is one of two Cape May freeholders up for re-election this year.
Hayes was censured over conflicts of interest related to her son, a county employee, by a 4-1 vote.
A censure over alleged retaliation against freeholder board clerk Beth Bozzelli passed 3-2. Hayes and Freeholder Will Morey voted no.
The Republicans on the panel hashed it out over the censures on Tuesday.
Hayes didn’t take the condemnation lying down, launching accusations of her own against Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton, who is also up for re-election this year.
She claimed Thornton had his own conflicts of interest. She said he lobbied her to vote in favor of a raise for his son-in-law, county counsel Jeff Lindsay.
“it screams for a bipartisan voice on the freeholder board to make the actions of freeholders more transparent and fairness a top priority at the county level,” Casey said.
It’s not clear whether the conflict between the two incumbents will subside before November.
They declined to say if they would endorse one another following Thursday’s hearing, and Hayes said she had been lobbied by some to resign and pull out of the race.
She said she has no intention of doing so.
“It’s kind of business as usual at the county government but now on steroids,” freeholder candidate Stephen Barry said. “They’ve started to attack each other. And the defense seems to be ‘well, everybody else does it.’”