BAT­TLE OF HAMIL­TON

Mercer County Re­pub­li­can boss re­jects Hamil­ton GOP chair­man vote >>

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­laiman Ab­dur-Rah­man Su­laiman@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @sab­durr on Twit­ter

HAMIL­TON >> Mercer County Re­pub­li­can boss Lisa Rich­ford said for­mer coun­cil­man Den­nis Pone is an il­le­git­i­mate Hamil­ton GOP chair­man.

The mu­nic­i­pal com­mit­tee elected Pone as party leader last month dur­ing a for­mal meet­ing, but Rich­ford says the vote was in­valid due to the Hamil­ton Re­pub­li­can Com­mit­tee’s al­leged fail­ure to play by the rules.

“Based on the calls that I am get­ting, peo­ple were ab­so­lutely dis­en­fran­chised, duly elected com­mit­tee peo­ple,” Rich­ford, the Mercer County GOP chair­woman, said Fri­day. “They must go back and fol­low the cor­rect pro­ce­dures. That is what due process is all about — no­tice and due process.”

Hamil­ton’s Re­pub­li­can Com­mit­tee ne­glected to fol­low its con­sti­tu­tion and by­laws by fail­ing to pro­vide ad­vance no­tice of the meet­ing, Rich­ford al­leged.

All Hamil­ton GOP com­mit­tee mem­bers are duly elected in the pri­mary elec­tion and “more than one did not re­ceive no­tice for this meet­ing,” said Rich­ford, who re­fuses to rec­og­nize Pone’s chair­man­ship.

Records with the Mercer County Clerk’s Of­fice list Hamil­ton Health Of­fi­cer Jeff Plun­kett as the cur­rent chair­man of the Hamil­ton Repub­li­cans, not Pone.

“If the chair­man wants to call me, Chair­man Plun­kett, they need to just go ahead and do it right, do the right thing,” Rich­ford said. “They need to do an­other meet­ing and have it done right. Do­ing it right pro­tects and in­stills the in­tegrity and trust of the demo­cratic process.”

Mercer County Clerk Paula Sol­lami-Covello is aware of the dis­pute.

“From my re­view of the writ­ten e-mail cor­re­spon­dence be­tween my of­fice and the Mercer County Re­pub­li­can Chair­woman Lisa Rich­ford, Mr. Plun­kett is still the chair of Hamil­ton Town­ship Repub­li­cans on record,” Sol­lami-Covello told The Trentonian in a re­cent email. “Our of­fice ad­vised Mr. Pone by e-mail that the chair­woman has writ­ten that there was no change in Hamil­ton. We are sim­ply the record-keep­ers. We have no fur­ther in­for­ma­tion at this time.”

Pone pro­vided fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on Fri­day, say­ing he is the duly elected chair­man of the Hamil­ton GOP.

“I have been as­sured by all in­volved that proper no­tice was given and all proper pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed and I was ELECTED unan­i­mously (not ap­pointed),” Pone said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Lisa may not have a per­sonal prob­lem with me, but she cer­tainly does with Hamil­ton in gen­eral. Her own at­tor­ney for the county, Ge­orge Dougherty, has ad­vised her and told me she has no say in our (Hamil­ton’s) Com­mit­tee’s elec­tions.”

“I have also spo­ken di­rectly with Paula Sol­lami-Covello and have sent her the pa­per­work re­lated to the meet­ing and my elec­tion,” Pone added. “She has no is­sue with it.”

But Rich­ford is not alone in ques­tion­ing the le­git­i­macy of Pone’s chair­man­ship.

David Hen­der­son, one of the prime movers be­hind Repub­li­cans for a Bet­ter Hamil­ton, an al­ter­na­tive lo­cal GOP or­ga­ni­za­tion, ac­cused the Hamil­ton Town­ship Re­pub­li­can Com­mit­tee of hold­ing an “il­le­gal meet­ing” to elect Pone as mu­nic­i­pal chair­man.

Hen­der­son has a con­tro­ver­sial so­cial me­dia his­tory but con­tin­ues to en­joy Rich­ford’s of­fi­cial sup­port, Pone said.

“Hamil­ton has de­nounced Dave Hen­der­son’s of­fen­sive Face­book posts, re­moved him from our club, pre­sented her and the rest of the county com­mit­tee with the ev­i­dence, asked for his re­moval from the county ex­ec­u­tive board, which she ap­pointed him to, yet she con­tin­ues to sup­port him,” Pone said of Rich­ford. “I feel like I live in an al­ter­nate uni­verse from her! We will con­tinue to de­nounce hate in Hamil­ton, and pro­vide good can­di­dates and good gov­ern­ment and lead­er­ship the peo­ple of Hamil­ton can be proud of.”

“I have noth­ing per­sonal against Den­nis Pone,” Rich­ford said Fri­day, adding she ac­quired newly pre­scribed eye­glass lenses from the for­mer coun­cil­man’s op­ti­cian busi­ness last year. “At the end of the day, he may likely be the next chair­man, but I sus­pect if they truly did it right they would have con­tacted me.”

Pone sent pa­per­work to the county clerk Thurs­day, he said, adding Sol­lami-Covello had not re­ceived the doc­u­ments as of Fri­day — doc­u­ments prov­ing the le­git­i­macy of his chair­man­ship.

“In speak­ing with her,” Pone said of Sol­lami-Covello, “as long as the pa­per­work is in or­der (which it is), she has no prob­lem list­ing me as chair­man.”

Not back­ing down, Rich­ford sug­gested she must hold Hamil­ton’s Re­pub­li­can Com­mit­tee ac­count­able to the rules. “You have to fol­low your con­sti­tu­tion and by­laws,” she said. “Oth­er­wise for me not to re­quire them go back and to do it right, only per­pet­u­ates pub­lic dis­trust in the sys­tem and process.”

Lisa Rich­ford (left) and Den­nis Pone

FILE PHO­TOS

Lisa Rich­ford (left) and Den­nis Pone

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.