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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at or follow me @awisefool.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Candidates spar over former Hamilton mayor before fall campaign

The two mayoral candidates in Hamilton are fighting over their predecessor — whether he is relevant in the election and, if so, how much — though voters don’t cast their ballots for nine more months.

Mayor Kelly Yaede, in her State of the Township speech last week, staked out her position: former Mayor John Bencivengo and his federal corruption convictions are in the past and should stay there.

“It makes me angry when the collective actions of a few individuals have given Hamilton a collective black eye,” she said last Tuesday. “But it makes me even angrier when others solely for their own personal political agenda seek only to deepen the wound that has been inflicted on Hamilton Township rather than to help our community and guide our residents forward.”

The sole Democrat vying to challenge her in the fall, Barbara Plumeri, has, since announcing her candidacy, tried to make the conversation about Bencivengo and its fallout.

In December, Plumeri called for an additional mandatory ethics pledge for township employees. In February, she criticized Yaede’s administration for using the accounting firm Hodulik and Morrison, a contractor used during the Bencivengo administration.

“A new era should include an ethics board. After all this township has been through this past year the township should have a local ethics board,” she said.

Though it is still months before the bulk of campaigning begins, the conversation about the ousted mayor still seems to matter. How the two women position themselves on Bencivengo and other issues could matter less than the candidates themselves though, said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rutgers University.

You can read the full story here.


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