Longtime engineer replaced in Galloway

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Tony Coppola, right, is sworn in as deputy mayor by Mayor Don Purdy Wednesday, Jan. 2. Councilwoman Whitney Ullman holds the Bible. Tony Coppola, right, is sworn in as deputy mayor by Mayor Don Purdy Wednesday, Jan. 2. Councilwoman Whitney Ullman holds the Bible.

GALLOWAY – In a sometimes contentious reorganization meeting, Township Council replaced engineer Kevin Dixon, who had served for a decade, with Vince Polistina, who has been the Planning Board engineer.

There were two nominations for about half the appointments, with the votes all being decided similarly along party lines or with Republican Tom Bassford breaking ranks and joining Democrats Jim Gorman and Jim McElwee. Republican Mayor Don Purdy, Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola and council members Whitney Ullman and Brian Tyrrell were on the winning side in all cases, by votes of 5-2 or 4-3.

Polistina and Associates was chosen for the engineering post by a 4-3 vote.

Bassford defended Dixon’s performance and said he objected to replacing a company located in Galloway with one from Egg Harbor Township.

“Kevin did a lot for the township,” he said. “He’s a businessman in Galloway. A lot of times he did things for free. His replacement surely wasn’t for job performance.”

Gorman said he was disappointed with Dixon’s removal.

“It’s an internal problem with the local party,” he said, alluding to a rift between the Galloway Township Republican League and some Republican council members. “Naturally I brought up a few names. I believe the auditor should be changed every few years. Leon Costello has done a good job. If the previous council had listened to him we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in. But I think you should have someone else look over the books.”

McElwee said Dixon should have been kept.

“Kevin Dixon got a raw deal,” McElwee said. “I don’t think he did a bad job. He deserved to be appointed again. My vote speaks for itself. I don’t know Vince Polistina personally, but I’ve heard of him.”

Purdy said that the engineer was a political appointment and therefore subject to change from time to time.

“Sometimes it’s good to have a change,” the mayor said. “I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. I wish Kevin Dixon the best.”

Tyrrell said he’d had telephone conversations with most council members on the issue.

“I had discussions up until the day of the meeting,” he said. “We just thought it best to change.”

Ullman, when asked to explain why she chose Polistina, only offered praise for Dixon.

“In regards to our town engineer, Kevin Dixon and his team have always exemplified professionalism and dedication to our community,” she said. “I have the utmost respect for their work and work ethic as well as their passion for supporting Galloway.”

Polistina, a former state assemblyman from Atlantic County, said Tuesday, Jan. 8 that he grew up in Galloway attending township public schools and graduating from Absegami High School in 1989.

“I’ve been Planning Board engineer for years now,” Polistina said. “I have many friends in Galloway, so I want to help there.”

He said that when an engineer’s attendance is requested at council meetings, it will be him representing the firm.

“I’m very excited,” he said of the appointment. “I grew up here and have friends. It’s an opportunity to go back and serve the township.”

Dixon was out of town and Coppola was not available for comment after the meeting.

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