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Pastor Dominick Cuozzo. (Photo: Dominick Cuozzo).

Cuozzo facing recall in Plumsted

Pastor accused of harassing constituents, misspending public funds

By David Wildstein, February 03 2023 7:31 pm

A group of Plumsted residents have initiated a move to recall Rev. Dominick Cuozzo from his township committee seat, alleging that the Republican has harassed and discriminated against women and LBGTQ persons and spending taxpayer money to settle personal grudges.

Now the grassroots group has 160 days to gather roughly 1,650 signatures of registered voters – 25% of the total electorate – to force a recall election.

Cuozzo, the pastor at the Bible Baptist Church in Plumsted, defeated incumbents Erik Sorchik and Jack Trotta, in 2021.

Following Assemblyman Ronald Dancer’s death last July (R-Plumsted), Cuozzo ran in a special election convention for the legislature and got clobbered; Alex Sauickie, then a Jackson councilman, defeated him by a massive 69%-29% margin.  Dancer’s widow backed Sauickie.

Supporters of the recall allege that Cuozzo’s “personal and religious beliefs have taken priority over the needs and wants of the overall community. “

“He has proven himself to be unprofessional, bigoted, cruel, uneducated in township matters, basic laws, tax spending and heavily biased in his voting,” said Sydne Phillips, who is part of the team seeking signatures on the recall petition.  “We demand better.”

Ryan Kertis and Stacy Reed, both Republicans, and Linda Salcfas, a Democrat, lead the recall committee.

Cuozzo appears to have taken aim at Phillips, who is Kertis’ partner.

In a statement signed by Cuozzo’s former running mate, Thomas Calabrese, says the Cuozzo told him why he was opposing Kertis’s candidacy for Republican Club president.

Calabrese, who resigned from the township committee last week, said in a written statement that Cuozzo told him in October that “Kertis and his girlfriend are not who we think they are.”

“I continued to press for more information, at which point Mr. Cuozzo told me that his girlfriend was actually someone Mr. Kertis hired and brought home from Colorado in order to make his ex-wife jealous,” Calabrese stated.  “Mr. Cuozzo then said, “that she was actually a prostitute that had children with many different guys and then was impregnated by Mr. Kertis.’”

Cuozzo did not immediately respond to a 5:29 PM email seeking comment.

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