By Art Gallagher
The controversy over Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham’s compensation and spending habits has given Democratic Freeholder Amy Mallet an issue to run on in her reelection bid. Mallet has picked up the ball and run with it.
The Brookdale issue should be a positive for Republicans. Republican Freeholder John Curley first identified and raised the issue which led to Burnham’s suspension last week. But while Mallet has gotten out front with the issue by calling for college chairman Howard Birdsall’s resignation and calling for term limits for Brookdale trustees, Republican Freeholder Lillian Burry, who is also up for reelection this year, has been far less aggressive.
Burry told the Asbury Park Press, “At this point they (the Brookdale trustees) need our support,” Burry said, adding that the board of trustees moved swiftly to address the situation.
Seriously Lillian? They should have moved swiftly. But how long has this been going on? Where else in county government is excessive spending going on? The Library? The Park System? Nursing homes? The vocational school system?
The Brookdale trustees should be supported in this difficult time….by their friends and families….not by a Freeholder who is charged by the taxpayers with overseeing government operations and making sure our dollars are spent prudently.
Burry needs to decide who she is; friend or Freeholder. If she’s a friend, she needs to get out of the way and let someone else take her spot on the GOP ticket this year. If she is a Freeholder, she needs to step up her game. Over the last couple of weeks Burry gave Mallet’s career new life and Mallet is making the most of it.
Prior to the Brookdale scandal, few political observers gave Mallet much of a chance at reelection. Now she is in the game. This could lead to stronger Democrats stepping up to run for county and legislative office. It could make it easier for the Democrats to raise money. It could make what was looking to be a boring Republican rout this year become a competive election season.