Opinion: Strumolo Must Respond To Concerns

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This column represents the opinion of Alex Roman:

On Friday, the New Jersey Globe published an article detailing legal and financial difficulties attributed to Christian Strumolo, which discussed multiple arrests and charges, liens, and a personal bankruptcy.

The takeaway quote in the article was from Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “Voters can’t make informed decisions unless they’re informed. If you asked any self-respecting constituent of George Santos, they’d tell you they wish they knew then what they know now.”

According to the Globe, just four years ago he was arrested by the Verona Police for a DUI on Bloomfield Avenue, and eleven years earlier he had a previous DUI conviction on Pompton Avenue in Cedar Grove. The article notes serious allegations, charges, and convictions including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer (reduced to simple assault) and impersonating a public servant or law enforcement officer (reduced to obstructing administration of law or government function and loitering while intoxicated).

We have very serious responsibilities on the Verona Town Council. We are responsible for the safety and welfare of 14,500 residents and the oversight of the Verona Police Department. Mr. Strumolo cannot speak or act with credibility on these matters under this cloud of questionable past activity.

Furthermore, the allegations regarding his personal financial history are at odds with his claim to be a “successful businessman”. The string of debts, liens, and unpaid loans listed in the article also suggest that he should not be responsible for the financial administration of a municipal budget exceeding $27M plus our public utilities.

As I mentioned during the Verona Juniors candidate forum, Mr. Strumolo made an unsolicited offer of a campaign contribution to me for $2,600 from himself and $2,600 from his fiancee before either he or I filed our petitions for candidacy. I had attempted to find any common ground or interest in issues with him but could not get him to express opinions on current Verona Township matters. He primarily expressed a distaste for portions of the curriculum in the Verona Schools which is not a matter under the jurisdiction of the Township Council. I declined to accept the offer. I do not seek campaign contributions and have only accepted a few very modest contributions from close friends in previous years. I was generally uncomfortable in dealing with Mr. Strumolo and felt it appropriate to keep him at arm’s length. In retrospect, that was the proper call to make.

While I think that Mr. Strumolo should do the right thing and suspend his campaign, we cannot be complacent and assume that this election is over. He has been targeting mail-in ballots and we know that many votes have already been cast. Please make sure you vote, either by dropping off your ballot in the collection box or in person on Election Day. Even if he does claim to withdraw, votes that are cast still count and he could still be elected if not enough people put in a vote for other candidates. There are ongoing campaigns in town to “bullet vote” for Mr. Strumolo to ensure that he gets a seat. We cannot let that happen.

If Mr. Strumolo wishes to contradict any of the claims regarding his past, he must do so publicly and immediately, and provide clear information about his personal background, past employment and business history, and details on whether he owns property within Verona. If he claims to have satisfied his financial obligations, he should provide conclusive proof of having done so. His dismissive comment that he was “at the gym” when contacted by a reporter regarding these serious allegations is inexcusable.

Normally I do not like to campaign against an opposing candidate. I much prefer to talk to voters about my policy agenda, past accomplishments, and the outlook for our community. This is not a normal situation, unfortunately. Please vote on May 9, and thank you for your ongoing support.

Alex Roman is currently seeking a third term on the Town Council.

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