Fanale's replacement still undecided

| 16 Jul 2014 | 10:27

    It has been one week since embattled councilman David M. Fanale resigned from the Borough of Franklin council and questions still remain as to who will fill his empty seat.

    Fanale resigned on July 9, the morning after a heated council meeting where hundreds of locals and police officials called for his resignation following outrage over posts he made about police on social media.

    Open seat
    Fanale was elected as a Republican with his term set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016. Now that his seat is open, the Republican Committee has 15 days from the day Fanale resigned — Thursday, July 24 — to submit a list of three names they would like to be considered to fill in.

    The council would then have 30 days from the day Fanale resigned — Friday, Aug. 8 — to choose one of the names suggested by the Republican Committee.

    "The Borough Council will hold a special meeting to choose one of those names within 30 days of the vacancy," Borough Administrator James Kilduff said. "Then the individual would immediately fill the seat and presumably run for council for the rest of the unexpired term in November."

    In November, the individual selected to fill Fanale's seat can choose to run to finish the rest of Fanale's term or the Republican committee can select another candidate. The Democratic Committee also can submit a candidate for the November election — which must be done 55 days proper to the general election, according to Kilduff.

    November election
    "The other important thing is there is already two other vacant seats in November," Kilduff said. "Joe Limon (Incumbent) and Robert C. Dadinett are both candidates running for two other open seats on the council. They were the two winners from the primary in June. They are running for three-year terms."

    Limon and Dadinett will face Democrat Patricia Rowett, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election.

    However, all three candidates are not running for Fanale's unexpired seat, which will run through Dec. 31, 2016. A new Republican and/or Democratic candidate must be submitted in order to run for Fanale's seat.

    Whomever is elected by the public in the general election as the winner of Fanale's seat will immediately take office and finish his term through 2016.

    The borough clerk received a letter from Fanale, citing excessive stress to his family and loved ones, as the reason for his resignation on July 9.

    Fanale first came under fire at the March 11 council meeting for criticizing Patrolman Rafael Burgos, who was injured while on duty at a structure fire at Franklin’s Pet Center on Feb. 25, on his Facebook page.

    Fanale was again criticized recently for another post on his Facebook page. The post depicts a cartoon character urinating on a symbol that is often used to represent Law Enforcement Officers who have fallen in the line of duty. The cartoon character is also displaying his middle finger.

    Fanale's tenure on the council was short. He was elected last November and sworn in January after serving a couple of months of an unexpired term.

    "This is an eye-opener and a reminder to residents of all towns that local officials are held to the same if not a higher standard of conduct — as are other public professions such as law enforcement and teachers — due to the nature of their position," said Franklin Detective Nevin J. Mattessich, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 57. "If an official is purposefully conducting himself inappropriately, especially in this era of social media, the public has shown that is will not be accepted."

    Over crowded meeting
    At the July 8 council meeting, hundreds of locals and police officials came out in droves to call for Fanale's resignation. The meeting-room capacity could only hold up to 82 people and a couple hundred had shown up, according to Sussex County Fire Marshall Joseph Inga.

    The press was let into the room 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting and the public 15 minutes prior. Once the meeting started many were left waiting outside for a chance to enter and say their peace.

    "As a seat became vacated, we would let other people up," Inga said.

    According to Mattessich, he sent out a notice prior to the meeting to press officials warning of the possible large crowd. However, the Advertiser-News South never received this letter nor was allowed into the meeting.

    "It was urged to change the venue, but for whatever reason the municipality had to leave where it was," Inga said. "Everyone had a chance to speak. No one was forced to leave."