Political Sparring Starts At Jackson Council Meeting

Jackson Township resident Joseph Sullivan, left at podium, questions Council President Martin Flemming about taxes and municipal spending during a recent Jackson Council meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – During the public comment period a resident used his time to ask questions of a council member who is running for election.

  Resident Joseph Sullivan came up to the microphone and directed questions to Council President Martin Flemming. At the time, Flemming was running for mayor against fellow Republican Michael Reina, the incumbent mayor.

  Sullivan asked, “is it true you are supporting the idea of raising taxes at least $350 a year to collect more leaves.”

  “No that is not what I said, that was taken out of context. What I said was that people get upset when the leaves aren’t picked up. Everybody knows we can’t pick up leaves in this town three times a week,” Flemming said.

  “It would probably cost closer to $750,000” Sullivan added.

  Flemming responded, “it wouldn’t be done.”

  Sullivan then asked if Flemming was a former registered Democrat and is now a Republican.

  “That is false sir,” Flemming answered. “I wasn’t registered as anything. I was an independent.”

  After the meeting, Sullivan posted on social media that Flemming had lied about his party affiliation prior to becoming a councilman in 2020.

  Sullivan asked Flemming, “what are your thoughts on running the government, hiring employees, spending more money?”

  “You have to do what you have to do to run the town if that is the point you are getting at. If you need more police officers to keep the town safe you have to hire them and equip them,” Flemming said. He asked Sullivan to allow him to fully answer his questions saying Sullivan was pontificating on “political points which is why you are here.”

  “You have to have the manpower to run the town. If you don’t have it services fail,” Flemming said.

  Sullivan asked him how many more police might need to be hired to which Flemming said he didn’t know and wouldn’t until such time as he could evaluate the matter.

  The exchange continued for several more minutes and Flemming said, “everyone knows what is happening here. I’m not going to do that here and neither are you. If this is your angle of speaking, we will be done and I will ask you to sit down. If you are going to be doing politics, another time would be preferred.”

  “This is a public forum,” Sullivan replied.

  “If you want to ask Mayor Reina to hire more police officers, ask Mayor Reina. I don’t hire police officers,” Flemming said.

  “I think we have a great number of police officers,” Sullivan said.

  Flemming did say he thought the number of police officers was too low “based on standards that are set by the state and federal government on the size of the population and the size of the township.”

  “You are politicking and it is not proper to do it at this meeting of the township and I will ask you again to sit down,” Flemming added.


  In other news, Council Vice President Andrew Kern spoke about volunteerism within the community.

  “Volunteering is something that everyone up here on this council supports and is how we all started to get involved. Whether it was through sports, through the fire departments or different entities in town, volunteering is the basis of what community is,” Kern added.

  He urged residents to “go out and interact with groups and do what you can in whatever interests you to help and volunteer for the different organizations throughout town.”

Township Business

  During the session an ordinance was introduced authorizing the execution of a quit claim deed for title and interest the township may have in a portion of land to be conveyed to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A public hearing on this ordinance will be held on November 15 during the regular council meeting.

  Resolutions passed included the appropriation of transfers during the last two months of the fiscal year to the first three months of the current year, the purchase of one 2023 Case 856C AWD motor grader in the amount of $238,940 which includes a three-year warranty and ProCare maintenance from Groff Tractor Mid Atlantic, LLC.

  A rental agreement with Konica Minolta Business Solutions was also approved to provide 11 new copiers from the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey Cooperative Purchasing contract.

Upcoming Events

  During the meeting Councilwoman Samara O’Neill reported on some upcoming events that will be taking place including the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on December 3 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall which will feature refreshments and entertainment. There will also be a Menorah Lighting on December 20 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

  Another holiday favorite that is making a comeback after a two-year absence is Toyland taking place on December 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jackson Senior Center at 45 Don Connor Boulevard. Children under the age of 10 will receive, while supplies last, a fully dressed teddy bear, cookie and juice and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

  Hot dogs, nachos with cheese and hot pretzels along with coffee, hot chocolate and soda will be available for purchase along with baked goods.  There will be face painting, tattoos and balloon making activities as part of the fun and children can also leave a letter in the special mailbox for Santa Claus.