The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6, and locally, there is one seat open following the resignation of Councilman Dennis Kleiner over the summer. The race is between Councilman John Mooney, who was appointed in August to fill the seat through the end of the year, and Democratic challenger Jim McElwee.
Galloway Patch asked both candidates a series of questions to help Galloway residents get a better idea of each candidate's positions on the issues. Below are the responses from Mooney:
Why are you running?
I am running for Council because I believe that my years of experience in local government are an asset to Galloway Township in these difficult financial times. I have been encouraged by people in the community to step forward and help our fellow citizens as they are challenged by a significant tax burden and a cap on local spending that may curtail the ability of the local government to provide services our citizens have come to expect.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues?
The local budget will be the greatest challenge for the Galloway Council as we move forward into the coming year. The township manager has already predicted layoffs and served layoff notices to all but the statutorily mandated township officials. Council must examine the budget and eliminate services provided by another layer of government. Public Safety must come first; we must do our best to retain our police personnel and dispatchers and support our Volunteer Fire Companies and EMS to ensure that our citizens are protected in times of need.
What changes would you make to what the current council is doing?
I believe council must address OPRA head on and ensure that the process of local government is purely transparent. We need to ensure that as much township business as is possible is posted on the township website. Not only does that serve to inform the public, but it also will reduce the burden and cost for our township clerk to respond to an ever increasing volume of OPRA requests, and hopefully eliminate legal costs for OPRA challenges.
What are some of the positive things you believe the current council is doing?
I believe the "hybrid" reassessment planned for 2013 will help equalize the tax burden on each of us in comparison to our immediate neighbors, without the cost and inconvenience of a full revaluation. I believe that the members of council, both individually and collectively, have the best interests of the community at heart when they deliberate issues before council. For example, although I am not happy about postponing debt, I believe the bond proposal to offset tax appeals is necessary under the present circumstances.
What would you bring to council that no one else can bring, i.e., strengths, experience, etc?
I have 35 years experience in local government, rising from an entry level law enforcement position to Chief of Police. There is no substitute for experience; it must be earned. Your judgment and decisions are tempered by your past experiences. I believe that my strength is based on the courage of my convictions, standing on the values upon which my years on this earth have been built. I have faced adversity in the field; I faced danger, including gunfire, as a patrol officer. I led others in times of crisis and I have made hard decisions that placed my personnel in harm's way. I placed my trust in them to carry out our mission of protecting our fellow citizens, knowing full well the potential consequences of those decisions because I walked that road before them. As an administrator, I dealt with zero-growth budgets, federal and state grants, legal and human resource issues.
What is your political background? What offices have you held/run for in the past?
I am a registered Republican and member of the Atlantic County Republican Committee for Galloway Township; a member and past president of GTRL; a past president of both PBA Local #24 and the AC Police Superior Officers Association; and I ran for township council in 1999, but was unsuccessful in my bid for office.
I am a 24-year resident of Galloway Township, where my wife, Bernadette, and I have raised their two children, Erin and John IV (Buddy.) I volunteered as a soccer coach with GTAA and Atlantic United, assisted with the PAL basketball program and with the both the Atlantic City Sharks and St. Augustine Prep ice hockey programs. Me and my family are parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton RC Church; I taught CCD and am active as a lector. I am a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
I was honored as “2011 Man of the Year” by the Friendly Sons and was recently honored by my selection as 2013 Grand Marshal of the AC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
I retired in May 2010 from the Atlantic City Police Department after more than 34 years of service; I rose through the ranks to achieve the position of Chief of Police, which I held for five years. I received many valor awards and citations during my years in law enforcement, and served as past president of both PBA Local #24 and the AC Police Superior Officers Association.
I am a NJ Certified Public Manager, graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA; the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar at Quantico; and West Point Command and Leadership Program sponsored by the NJ Association of Chiefs of Police. I am Level ICS 400 certified and attended Villanova University before my police career.