Robert Maldonado

Galloway Township Committeeman Robert Maldonado said Monday many people called him to tell him they were happy the recall effort failed.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Robert Maldonado will stay on the Township Council through Dec. 31, 2021.

A petition drive to let voters decide whether to recall the politically unaffiliated politician this fall did not muster enough signatures by its July 19 deadline, said Thomas Bassford, a former mayor and one of three leaders of the recall effort.

Bassford believes enough signatures would have been obtained if the COVID-19 pandemic had never happened. It kept the organizers from walking around and knocking on doors to gain signatures.

Another recall committee member, Chris Coleman, tried to receive an extension on the deadline but was unsuccessful, Bassford said.

“We were doing well. We were on pace and off to a good start,” he said.

The committee to recall Maldonado, a 27-year township resident, had gathered more than 1,000 signatures by March 12, a little more than a month after the effort started. The committee needed 6,528 signatures to put Maldonado’s name on the ballot in November.

Maldonado, 65, said Monday many people called him to tell him they were glad the recall effort failed.

“I am grateful and very happy,” said Maldonado, who added all he wants to do is serve the people.

Maldonado was accused of:

• Unprofessional conduct and abuse of power in using his position as councilman to have a street in his neighborhood paved without prior consent, approval or abstention, and to have a South Jersey Gas contractor install two improvements on his personal property for personal gain under public funding.

• Abuse of power in requesting services for personal gain from a vendor to whom he awarded a public contract. This is based on the allegation that then township Engineer Vince Polistina did Maldonado a personal favor by arranging for the use of a limousine for Maldonado’s daughter’s wedding, Coleman has said.

• A violation of the Open Public Meetings Act in a scheme to award contracts for professional appointments with public funding. This is based on the allegation that Maldonado was involved in collusion in awarding professional contracts prior to the township’s Jan. 2 reorganization meeting, Coleman said.

In a statement, Maldonado said a small group of misguided individuals, led by the Galloway Republican League, tried to remove him from office when he decided it was important to do what was right rather than to do what they ordered him to do.

Maldonado was a Republican before he was unaffiliated.

“When I put politics aside and made a decision I believed was best for the community, that is when I saw the truly dirty side of politics. Lies about me were fabricated in an attempt to tarnish my reputation. My family and I were attacked both verbally and through social media,” he said.

Maldonado said he endured racial slurs as he would walk into Council meetings along with insult after insult.

“All in an effort to try and make me resign from my position while at the same time leading a recall effort to try and have me removed. All of this because I didn’t do what ‘they’ wanted me to do,” he said.

With the recall effort failing, all seven council members will be together through all of next year unless someone resigns.

Tony DiPietro, a Republican on the council, which is split among three Republicans, three Democrats and the unaffiliated Maldonado, said the board made a commitment to move forward in the spring after a contentious winter.

“We want to do what is in the best interest of the township,” DiPietro said.

Contact: 609-272-7202

VJackson@pressofac.com

Twitter@ACPressJackson

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