Hainesport Township Government 101

Hainesport Township GovernmentThe Hainesport Township Website has this to say about our form of government:

Hainesport is governed by the Township Committee form of government. This is comprised of five officials elected by the residents to serve three year staggered terms. The elected members will select a chairperson who will be known as the “Mayor of the Township.”

With no mention of Republican or Democrat anywhere on the website, Hainesport residents could be forgiven for believing, as Committeeman Fitzpatrick is fond of saying, that party politics is irrelevant at a local level. However, he is mistaken.

Current Hainesport Township Committee

The three-year staggered terms currently expire as follows:

Mayor Porto (R) & Committeeman Dickinson (R): 12/31/2017
Committeeman Fitzpatrick (R): 12/31/2018
Deputy Mayor Masciocchi (R) & Committeewoman Gilmore (R): 12/31/2019

There are no term limits (although the Democrats would like to introduce a three term limit). Dickinson & Fitzpatrick are currently serving their third terms. Porto is on his third full term having also served a partial term prior to that.

How Do the Committee Govern?

It’s important to note that being an elected official on Hainesport Township Committee is a part time job. Indeed, Fitzpatrick and Porto both have full time jobs in local government elsewhere (Township Administrator, Mansfield, and Tax Administrator, Hunterdon County, respectively.)

Therefore, the day to day administration of Hainesport is carried out by a hardworking and well-respected paid staff (full and part-time), led by the Township Adminstrator. Until January 12th 2017 the Hainesport Township Administrator was Leo Selb. However the post is currently vacant.

The most visible role of the Committee is at the monthly Township Meetings, during which the business of the Township is conducted by means of Resolutions and Ordinances on which the committee vote. The material for the meetings is prepared by the Municipal Clerk. Until December 14th 2016 the Hainesport Municipal Clerk was Leo Selb (He was a joint Administrator/Clerk), but at the township meeting on December 13th he was removed from that position and the role was given part-time to Amy Cosnoski, the full time Clerk in Pemberton.

As explained on USlegal.com, “a resolution deals with matters of a special or temporary character and an ordinance prescribes some permanent rule of conduct or government to continue in force until the ordinance is repealed.” For example, at the January meeting, Mayor Tony Porto was appointed by resolution (effective for 1 year) whereas it took an Ordinance in December 2014,  (Ordinance 2014-10-11) to increase the cost of a Dog License in Hainesport to $15 for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the most influential role of the Committee is in the selection of the individuals who either work as paid staff for the township, or are appointed by resolution as the Township Professionals on an annual basis. And this is where Party Politics comes in.

The Hainesport Democrat & Republican Committees

When Hainesport voted in the last township election, they had a choice between 4 candidates: Schneider & Evans (D) and Gilmore & Masciocchi (R). (You could of course vote for 1 R and 1 D, but most people don’t.) Schneider & Evans were supported by the Hainesport Democrat Committee, while Gilmore & Masciocchi were supported by the Hainesport Republican Committee.

In my experience of the Democrat side of things, the chair of the Township party committee is expected to attend the County committee meetings, which would mean that Mayor Porto would be an active member of the Burlington County Republican Committee, whose Chairman is Bill Layton.

What Do the Burlington County Republicans Have to Do With Hainesport?

  • They funded the smear campaign against me, Anna Evans, which some experts have estimated cost ~$8000
  • They provided campaign literature supporting Gilmore & Masciocchi along with the Burlington County GOP candidates
  • They pushed the Hainesport Committee to get rid of Administrator/Clerk Leo Selb, who was seen as too friendly to Hainesport Democrats and not sufficiently supportive of the Republican agenda

How Else Do Party Politics Influence Hainesport Township Government?

  • Hainesport township professionals are typically Republican and/or campaign donors
  • Appointees to e.g. the Joint Use Planning Board are expected to support preferred Republican candidates
    • Recently the Chair of the JUPB was not reappointed without warning (despite 6 years exemplary service) due to his support of non-preferred candidates.
  • Democrats and their supporters are seen as ‘troublemakers’ and less deserving of participation in community activities
    • Mayor Porto recently ‘purged’ his Hainesport Community Page on Facebook of all members known to be associates of mine.

So, party politics is more important than you thought, isn’t it? Please bear this in mind next November when you are deciding whether to vote Porto (R) & Dickinson (R) in for their FOURTH full terms, or whether to vote for the as of yet unannounced Democrat candidates.

3 Comments

  1. Marco Agostini 112 Spruce Lane

    Distinguished Professor: Thank you for the information. Respectfully, I am more interested and focused on substantive issues with proved facts that affects the Township and not on minutia or trivia. I welcome intelligent discussion. I did not vote for you because the only person that came to my house was Mrs. Gilmore and the other candidate was an attorney like me. Thank you for your service and contribution to the people of Hainesport.
    I was in the opposition for most of my 37 years in Gibbsboro and Voorhees and I feel your pain except that the problems in Voorhees were more real..
    Thank you again.

    • Anna_Evans

      Marco: thanks for your thoughts. I also welcome respectful discussion of the issues. I apologize that no one visited your house during the campaign, although it is possible someone did when you were away from home. However, I note that you are a registered Republican. Natalie and I did focus our door-to-door conversion efforts on Independent voters, which is often a more efficient use of time for the campaign underdogs. (Hainesport is 30% Registered Republican and 45% Independent). I do believe that Hainesport has real problems with a couple of elected officials who tend to make decisions in their own best interests rather than those of the residents of Hainesport. As examples, I will cite the following: the deliberate and systematic removal of Leo Selb, an excellent administrator whose talents are now serving a much larger township while Hainesport languishes rudderless; the continued attempts to stifle any voices of dissent in the township, both at meetings (the removal of draft ordinances/resolutions from the agenda and the newly adopted refusal to engage in discussion during public comment), and on social media (Mayor Porto’s blocking of township residents from his Community page simply for being my friends); and finally, the fact that Republican campaign contributors are routinely given plum township contracts. I would encourage you to attend Township meetings and observe these things for yourself, in addition to the disdain with which said officials routinely treat Hainesport residents. Thanks again for your input.

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