Responding to a round of tough criticism by a Toms River Democratic party leader, the Republican council president said he would not back a request to oust one of his colleagues from the dais.
Councilman George Wittmann, who was not present at Tuesday’s council meeting, came under fire by Teddy Price, president of the Toms River Democrats, over an e-mail he accidentally sent to all township employees. The e-mail asked if anyone in “the club,” purportedly the Republican Club, had been notified of a possible job opening at town hall.
“Quite frankly, it’s possibly illegal,” Price told council members. “You know it’s despicable what he did. Do you hire anyone who isn’t in the club?”
In an e-mail that was leaked to the Asbury Park Press last week, Wittmann is quoted as writing: “We should discuss this at our caucus meeting to see if anyone is interested in the club.” The job was apparently in the law department, and the “club” referred to the Republican organization. Wittmann accidentally sent the e-mail out to the township’s entire staff instead of Council President Brian Kubiel.
Kubiel, a Republican, said he would not ask Wittmann to resign over the e-mail, after Price pressed him on whether he would do so.
Price, after speaking, handed a photograph to the township clerk that he said showed numerous town hall employees at a Republican Club function.
Price faced resistance from Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill, after excoriating Wittmann over the message.
“I find it interesting that you take the chance to single out someone who isn’t present,” Hill said. “It says a lot about your character.”
Price initially asked if Wittmann had already resigned. Kubiel said he was away on a business trip and his absence was formally excused by the governing body.
“His email did not state that anybody was getting a job,” Kubiel later added.
In the case that a council member resigns, the party to which he or she belongs recommends three candidates, then the remaining council members select one to serve until the next election. The Toms River council is currently split 4-3 in favor of the Republicans. Democrats, however, took three out of four available seats in last year’s council race.