By: Joseph L. Kuchie
SOUTH AMBOY – Former Mayor John “Jack” O’Leary came to the defense of South Amboy’s city officials after comments were made by political candidates looking to join the city council after the upcoming election.
O’Leary referred to comments made by candidates Brian McLaughlin and Barbara Pasternack in an article published by The Suburban on October 11th.
McLaughlin was quoted saying “there have been many promises made to the residents of the town that have not been followed through” and he believed the city’s plan to bring more residential areas to the city will “not lower the taxes of this town; it will only raises taxes”.
Pasternack was quoted saying she sees “the inability or perhaps the lack of design to initiate change” with the current council and “the current administration gives excuses and creates obstacles instead of resolving problems in the city.”
O’Leary asked the council if they or the Mayor had seen the article and wondered why no public comments were made.
“People read those comments and nobody stands up for things that are inaccurate, not correct, and shedding a bad light on 20 years, 30 years of progress in this city,” he said. “Somebody needs to stand up and be transparent about it.
Council President Mickey Gross responded by emphasizing that they were at a city council meeting and it was not the time or place for a political discussion.
“I take comments like that in the newspaper as something political and this is not a political venue,” he said. “This is the business of the city. “
Councilwoman Zusette Dato praised O’Leary for saying what he said to the public.
“I’d like to just thank Jack O’Leary for making the comments he did and to get the information out there,” Dato said. “I don’t have anything negative to say but I’m glad that he brought that information to light.”
“We have a lot to be proud of, I’m very proud of what I do,” she added. “We don’t do this for money, we do it because we’re trying to do the right thing for the people of the city.”
Pasternack and McLaughlin were both in attendance for the council meeting. McLaughlin once again took his stance against building more residential areas in South Amboy, but Pasternack was cut off by Council President Gross before she could respond to O’Leary’s comments.
“I’m going to make this clear, this is not a political forum. This is a city council meeting,” Gross said. “You’re entitled to your opinion outside the meeting. We are not going to make this a political forum.”
McLaughlin or Pasternack will fill the seat soon to be vacated by Councilman Donald Applegate. Pasternack is running as an independent, while McLaughlin has been endorsed by the City’s party.
Mayor Fred Henry was not in attendance for the meeting. The next city council meeting will be held after Election Day on Monday, November 14th at 7 p.m.