The empty council seat

As most of you may know, Councilman Scott Owens resigned from Gloucester Township Council on September 18th. According to The Patch article, Owens cited both “family and professional circumstances” for his move.

One of the interesting things about this is that Scott resigned on the same day his house was sold. His family lived a few houses down from me and had moved out of the house the week before his resignation. Why is that interesting? Well, it makes me wonder if he wanted to make sure he got out of here before delivering the news to the GT Machine he was a part of. They spend a lot of time and money on getting their people into those positions and I can’t imagine they take those things well.

Anyway, the process to fill the seat is this.

The Democratic Committee Scott belonged to has 15 days to interview and select 3 candidates. Those 3 candidates are then presented to council and council has 15 more days to choose a replacement. The replacement will hold that seat for the remainder of Scott’s term which ends at the end of 2021.

When I posted this news to a few Facebook groups it was pretty apparent that most of us had a feeling someone already groomed by The GT Machine was going to step right in with the same “Vote yes to everything” mindset. Knowing a concerned resident or two may question the committee’s selection, I wondered if the answer we were going to be given was that no one applied for the position so they appointed someone on their own.

The only thing left to do was to apply for the position myself and that’s exactly what I did.

I heard back an hour later with a request for my resume. A half hour after sending my resume I had an interview setup for that same evening. At that point I started searching the Internet to find out a little bit more about the members of the committee. Some of the members were familiar names in the news. Some had been mentioned in the use of phantom candidates in the past, some had been investigated by the FBI and some had allegedly used political action campaigns illegally while in office. Going into this meeting was like going right into the snake pit.

When I arrived I was seated at the head of a table with around 6 members of the committee. One of the first things I mentioned was that Scott lived on my street before he moved and the response I got was “We thought so.” It was at that point I knew I was not going to get the position. If they already knew me than they already knew my views.

I didn’t have an opening statement prepared like they had asked for.  I gave them a brief history of growing up in Pine Hill, leaving New Jersey for a while and then moving to Gloucester Township in 2016.  When I was asked why I thought I be a good candidate for this position I told them that who I was growing up and who I am today best represented all of Gloucester Township.  I wasn’t blessed with wealth and a lot of connections growing up in Pine Hill.   I’m from a blue-collar family and graduated from Camden County Vocational for automotive technology.   Some years later I switched paths and have spent the last 20 years in Information Technology and now work for one of the country’s top law firms as a Systems Engineer.   Different people have different views of success, but since our former councilmen lived a few houses down I think I’ve made it far enough to fill that seat.  

If my interview was not already doomed, it definitely was after the next question. When I was asked if not chosen, would I still support the Democratic candidates in the next election all I could do was answer honestly.  I explained that our current council is not the best representation of the people in this township and if not chosen I would run against them in 2021.  As you can imagine they started taking a lot of notes at that point.  They asked how I planned on running and I told them most likely independently since I felt that partisan politics had no place here.  That my friends, is how you kill you chances at becoming a part of The GT Machine.

I don’t have any political aspirations, but at that point I was so angered by the power and corruption of this group that I left there thinking that I wanted to do whatever I could to clean house in GT.  I knew we had issues a few years ago which is why I started watching and attending council meetings.  I put this website up with the help of a few exceptionally knowledgeable GT residents in hopes to find people to run for mayor and council next year.   We had a lot of people sign up on the site and really want to hear what they have to say and to offer, but COVID restrictions have held us back from having meetings.

I’ve debated on selling my house and moving out of GT a few times in the last two years, but why let them win?  They are not better than me and they aren’t better than you.  There are almost 50,000 registered voters in GT and they are winning elections with just a few thousand votes.  We could easily wipe out the GT Machine if we all did it together.

We can start in 2020 by getting rid of partisan politics in our school boards and getting rid of these people that have so much money behind their campaigns.  I don’t know Ellen Reese, Linda Gilch or Mary Ann Johnson, but I do know they don’t have a PAC backing and they’ve been upfront enough to take interviews and show up for meetings.  

In 2021 we focus on the mayor and council seats.  It’s not going to be easy and it’s not something a few independent people can do on their own. Printing and mailing costs a small fortune and the legwork involved isn’t something 4 candidates can do on their own. This will require donations, fundraisers and volunteers. Registering for this site lets us know who to count on next year. Also, follow us on Facebook

In 2022 if the GT Machine still holds those seats, I’ll know you all don’t agree with me.  At that point all I can do is hope the housing market still looks good and I can leave here knowing I tried.

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