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Toms River Mayoral Hopefuls: Gilmore Should Step Down From GOP Leadership, County Post

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Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announces charges in the largest drug bust in county history, March 9, 2018. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato at a press conference in 2018. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Following his conviction on charges related to tax evasion on Wednesday, three prominent Toms River political figures have called on Ocean County Republican Chairman George R. Gilmore to resign his post.

Joseph D. Coronato, who most recent served as Ocean County prosecutor and is now running for Toms River mayor, released a statement saying he was “saddened” by the news of Gilmore’s conviction, but still hopes he steps down.

“As a former prosecutor, I have the utmost respect for our legal system,” said Coronato. “While I am deeply saddened by this news on a personal level and respect his constitutional right to appeal the verdict, I am hopeful George does what is best for the party and steps aside as Chairman while he continues his legal fight.”

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Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill, who is also running to represent the Republicans in the township’s mayoral race, likewise called for Gilmore’s resignation.

“Mr. Gilmore’s insistence on holding on to his positions of public trust despite being convicted by a jury of his peers does not serve the best interest of the people of Ocean County or the Republican Party,” said Hill.

“While I understand that Mr. Gilmore plans to appeal his convictions, I hereby call up all Republican elected officials in Ocean County and NJ Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt to prevail upon Gilmore to do the right thing and resign from his offices,” Hill added.

Yet another candidate for Toms River mayor, Councilman Dan Rodrick, similarly called on Gilmore to step down from his positions. Rodrick had already taken aim at Gilmore while he was under indictment, urging fellow Republicans to support his slate of candidates for council over those supported by Gilmore’s county Republican organization. Additionally, he called on Coronato to drop out of the race.

“The chairman should step down and so should his hand-picked candidate for mayor, Joe Coronato,” said Rodrick. “Joe Coronato has worked with developers and his relationship with the chairman will make him unelectable in November.”

Gilmore serves as county Republican chair as well as chairman of the Ocean County Board of Elections. He could face up to 35 years in federal prison following his conviction on multiple counts of white collar offenses, ranging from tax evasion to lying on a loan application.

As expected, the leader of the Ocean County Democratic organization also called on Gilmore to resign from his position on the elections board.

“We must maintain the public’s trust in our election system,” said Wyatt Earp, county Democratic chair. “Now that the Republican chairman and Board of Elections Republican appointee George Gilmore has been found guilty of a felony, at the least he should resign from his position on the Board of Elections to maintain the citizens’ faith in our election process.”

Gilmore’s law firm represents numerous Ocean County municipalities, including Seaside Heights. A council meeting in Seaside Heights on Wednesday was uneventful and the news was not discussed.