Thursday, February 22, 2024


DeMarzo Contends Mayor’s Jobs ‘Incompatible’

By Lauren Suit

WILDWOOD — City Commissioner Gary DeMarzo has turned the heat on Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. saying that his position as mayor and his roles with a volunteer fire company are “incompatible.”
DeMarzo released a two-page letter on April 2, stating his political rival should not be mayor while serving as a battalion chief and treasurer for Holly Beach Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 at the same time.
DeMarzo’s argument that Troiano’s volunteer job is a conflict of interest is similar to the one that prevents him, a city police officer on leave, from voting on police-related items.
Troiano said DeMarzo’s allegations are retaliation for the city’s current effort to prevent DeMarzo from being a commissioner and a member of the police department. He declined to comment further pending City Solicitor Marc Karavan’s advice on the matter.
DeMarzo has been on unpaid leave of absence from Wildwood Police Department since May 2007.
In July 2007, then Superior Court Judge Joseph C. Visalli ruled DeMarzo could remain a city commissioner as long as he took the leave of absence and recused himself from a long list of issues that could be considered conflicts of interest.
The issue is currently before Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong, who is expected to make a decision before April 21.
DeMarzo has posted audio of that hearing on, the same Web site where the videos of the City Commission meetings are found.
DeMarzo noted that state law allows, “Any person holding a position in the career service of any political subdivision shall, upon written request, be granted a leave of absence, with-out pay, to fill any elective public office for the term of that office.”
DeMarzo said that his leave of absence from the police department, in addition to Judge Visalli’s jurisdictional restrictions, remedies any conflict.
Troiano, he alleges, falls into a different category of ethics law.
“The bottom line is that his offices are incompatible and he has to make a choice,” DeMarzo said.
“To attempt to simultaneously serve in both capacities would be legally impermissible,” he added and cited a Hudson County Superior Court judge who ruled in March that a Secaucus councilman could not serve as a councilman and as a deputy fire chief.
DeMarzo said he understands the decisions are difficult and suggested the city hire the law firm of Chasan, Leyner and Lamparello to advise it on the matter.
DeMarzo said that a partner in that firm. Ralph J. Lamparello, was at the forefront of the issue in Secaucus and could assist in finding a resolution.
DeMarzo said he would seek a court order and file a state ethics complaint if it did not, however he is waiting for Troiano to “do the right thing.”

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