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Lumberton Democratic Municipal Chairwoman Gina LaPlaca.

Lumberton Republicans want LaPlaca, Benson to condemn Tuno over censure

LaPlaca says wrongdoing needs to be condemned, but holds off pending possible investigation

By Nikita Biryukov, October 06 2020 11:35 am

Lumberton’s Republican chairman called on Democratic township committee candidates Gina LaPlaca and Terrance Benson to condemn Mayor Ryan Tuno over a censure he received last week.

“There is an old adage my grandparents used to say. A fish rots from the head. The Democrat mayor of Lumberton was handpicked by democratic party boss and candidate Gina LaPlaca,” Lumberton Republican Chairman Lew Jackson said. “He needs to be removed. His actions were, and continue to be inappropriate and embarrassing.”

The Democrat-controlled Township committee voted to censure Tuno last week over statements he allegedly made to municipal employees and stripped him of his role as police and municipal court liaison last week.

They also voted to forward the matter to the State Ethics Board for review, though it’s not clear whether that body will launch its own probe into the matter.

Reached by the New Jersey Globe, LaPlaca, who is Lumberton’s Democratic chairwoman,  pointed to a Facebook comment made earlier Tuesday that warned against premature conclusions.

“If an investigation does in fact take place, it should be completed before anyone comments or assesses the conduct of others,” she said in the social media post. “It is my sincere hope that no misconduct occurred and that this will be cleared up soon. Obviously, if it is determined that there was wrongdoing on anyone’s part, they should be held accountable.”

Absent a complete investigation, she said, the Republicans call for condemnation was just pure politics.

“Beyond that, this is just a sad attempt by Republicans to improperly influence the local election and we won’t take part in it,” LaPlaca wrote.

Sources have told the New Jersey Globe Tuno’s censure was related to a Labor Day weekend incident involving the police that Tuno allegedly used his positions as mayor and police liaison to bury.

Tuno, the sources said, also told municipal employees to spike records requests related to the incident.

The committee’s four other members, two Democrats and two republicans, voted in favor of all three resolutions regarding the incident. Tuno voted against the censure and liaison resolutions. He was not allowed to vote on the measure forwarding the matter to the State Ethics Board.

“As this investigation unfolds the public will see just how badly the choices they have made are impacting our community,” Jackson said.

LaPlaca and Benson will face Republican Committeeman James Dwyer and Mark Miller in November. Committeeman Sean Earlen, the Burlington County Republican chairman, is not seeking re-election.

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