BELMAR — In a sharp exchange between candidates during the Oct. 24 borough council meeting, Councilwoman Caitlin Donovan disputed accusations about her professional background made by council candidate Sean Di Somma.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Mr. Di Somma claimed that the councilwoman has misled voters regarding her experience, telling her, “you claim that you’re a patient advocate when, in fact, you are and have been a DC lobbyist for around the last 15 years.”
“That is not true,” Ms. Donovan replied, “and it is very easy to look up because if you are a lobbyist you have to register with the federal government.”
“I am not a lobbyist,” she continued, and clarified that she had previously worked as a lobbyist approximately 15 years ago for about two years before deciding to leave, then moving on to work for a national 501[C] charity, which disqualifies her from lobbying.
Her response was met with applause from the audience, after which Mr. Di Somma left the meeting.
The exchange followed a series of attacks by Mr. Di Somma, including a call for Mayor Gerald Buccafusco to resign and an interrogation of Council President Mark Levis over what he said is a lack of signage to discourage shellfish harvesting in Shark River.
At that point Borough Attorney George McGill accused Mr. Di Somma of using the public comment opportunity to campaign.
“What we’re going to do here is not campaign,” Mr. McGill said. “You have the right to make your speeches, you can have a soapbox, that’s fine, you’re allowed to, but we’re not going to go back and forth with those kinds of questions because that’s not borough business, that’s your business.”
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