Editor’s note: For a response to the statement below, please see “Sussex County Democrats are the ones spreading misinformation and fear-mongering.”
To the Editor:
It has recently become public that there will be some changes on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Commissioners come this next election cycle. As is customary practice with the Sussex County Republican Committee, they will attempt to fool the voters of Sussex County by forcing resignations before terms are finished and appointing new party-approved picks. The two apparent resignations and two appointments will take place before the upcoming November 2022 election date, January/February to be precise.
It is has been circulated and further corroborated that Commissioners Petillo and Fasano will be not running for re-election, indeed, will be actually stepping down before their term expires on Dec. 31, 2022. With speculation regarding who or what forced them out of their seats, the more frightening prospect is who the Sussex County Republican Committee and Commissioner Director Dawn Fantasia plan to appoint to those seats.
The two heirs to these Republican seats should be individuals with experience in government, members of the public who have spent time helping to improve their communities for the better. The appointees should be hard workers focused on improving the county by building on their previous experience in governance and leadership. These two should be people who have the faith of the voters and the backs of all taxpayers with records of productivity and transparency.
If the Sussex County Republican Committee and Commissioner Director Fantasia truly cared about picking the best possible candidates for the job based on the above-stated qualifications, they would not be choosing those whose names have been unofficially announced. The two men the insider players of the Sussex GOP are purportedly picking are William Hayden and Nick D’Agostino.
William Hayden has never served a single day in elected office or been elected by the voters of Sussex County to any office. After his failed attempt to unseat Steve Oroho from his senate seat in 2017, he was quickly brought to heel by the Sussex County GOP and has been “putting in his time” ever since. Hayden is a self-described “freedom fighter” with ties to the Three Percenters militia, the New Jersey Oath Keepers militia, as well as various other known domestic terror and hate groups.
He is also the former president of the Sussex County Tea Party, an organization who believes government should be as small as humanly possible....and then made even smaller than that. This strong personal belief and hatred for government never stopped him from actively working as an employee for the state of New Jersey as a public servant. It also did not stop William from collecting a salary and benefits package supplied by the taxpayers. These beliefs of Mr. Hayden also led him to actively promote residents from our region to attend the January 6th insurrection, going as far as openly advertising a bus trip he had a hand in organizing to transport citizens to the Capitol attack.
Other accolades include becoming the self-proclaimed “leader” of a New Jersey Oath Keepers chapter, using his sway with the Sussex GOP to recruit for these domestic terror organizations and welcoming white supremacist hate groups into Sussex County.
Mr. Hayden has no experience in government outside of working on ways to get paid by it or tear it down. He has actively called for violence towards county residents and elected officials, including the governor, as well as harassment and intimidation tactics to try and silence all detractors.
Mr. Hayden is not a leader, he is an embarrassment, one that is about to be placed in a position of power for no other reason then political payment and partisan loyalty. The same Mr. Hayden that was called out by the public during commissioner meetings this past year when Commissioner Director Fantasia refused to condemn the January 6th insurrection and pushed through a “pro-respect” resolution in place of a resolution disavowing the domestic terror attack that overtook the Capitol.
Fantasia’s open and close relationship with Mr. Hayden and the hate groups that he associates with were on full display at these meetings; clearly the public was correct when voicing their concern about this obvious tie between the Commissioner Director and Mr. Hayden. Sadly those warnings were ignored, and Fantasia’s weak denials were accepted by a complicit commissioners board.
Nick D’Agostino on the other hand has had the ability to serve as an elected official. We just wish we could report he was effective in doing so. D’Agostino serves as the board of education president for the K-8 Sussex-Wantage school district. Before that he ran a litany of times for other local government positions and was denied a win by the taxpayers of those voting districts every time. His tenure as the board president of the Sussex-Wantage school board saw very little change outside of the successful gutting of teachers’ health benefits.
Outside of his extremely small governmental experience, Nick is running a fear-oriented campaign for congressional District 5 (currently held by Josh Gottheimer) and is a member of a group called Arise NJ, along with fellow “patriot” William Hayden. Both men attended the group’s inaugural event at the Trump golf course in Bedminster and have been chummy ever since. This group was formed during the Trump administration’s tenure in the White House with the sole goal of running far right candidates for board of education seats around the county and state in order to control school curriculums and content. The group feels that this plan is the most effective way to accomplish their goal of stacking school boards with like-minded conservative radicals in order to fight back against the “gay agenda.”
D’Agostino has felt this way about the LGBTQIA+ community long before he joined this group of hatemongers. However, just head over to his 5th Congressional candidate website and check out his platform as a wannabe candidate: attacks on the trans community, his self-described status as a “defender of the nuclear family,” labeling LGBTQIA+ relationships and families as “untraditional,” his personal hypocrisy as a described “devout Christian” coupled with the doubling down on claims that these types of things (the LGBTQIA+ community) are “an affront to god” etc. This kind of hate and vitriol has no place on a school board, let alone on the dais at a commissioners meeting.
In Mr. D’Agostino’s case, however, there is an even bigger twist. Mr. D’Agostino is running for Congress in the 5th District, as we have previously mentioned, along with Frank Pallotta. Pallotta already ran once for the 5th Congressional District seat and was beaten handedly by the incumbent Josh Gottheimer. Keeping with the pattern of corruption within the Sussex County GOP, it has been made public for some time that Pallotta plans on running for this seat again this upcoming cycle. This means Pallotta and D’Agostino would be at odds in a primary, a primary that Sussex County historically plays a huge roll in.
Pallotta has been careful to stay in the good graces of the Sussex GOP after his loss to Gottheimer because he is aware how imperative Sussex County support is to a potential congressional win. D’Agostino, being a Sussex county native, could present a problem for Pallotta, making a D’Agostino appointment to the commissioner board and keeping him out of the campaign fray is a win-win for all GOP political insiders involved.
As you can see, the “swamp” former President Trump spoke about is not in Washington, D.C., it is right here in Sussex County. Backroom deal making and quid pro quo schemes, an illegal practice we may add, is not the democracy our founders intended when they formed this nation.
The Sussex County Democratic Committee is calling for a full investigation into the three men previously mentioned as well as the Sussex County Republican Committee as a whole for its lead role; Mr. Hayden, for his connection to known domestic terror groups, hate groups and anti-government anarchist groups both within and without the County of Sussex; Mr. D’Agostino and Mr. Pallotta, for their involvement in any type of quid pro quo/pay to play scheme that would result in an appointed government position for Mr. D’Agostino and a clear path to a primary victory for Mr. Pallotta; Chairman Jerry Scanlan and the Sussex County Republican Committee for their masterminding of any quid pro quo/pay to play scheme executed in an attempt to clear the field for Mr. Pallotta, buy off Mr. D’Agostino with a county government appointment as well as prop up the inexperienced and dangerous Mr. Hayden.
This cabal of corrupt, inexperienced and dangerous individuals have no place in government. Their backwards, dangerous and hateful rhetoric has no place in Sussex County. If Commissioner Fantasia truly believed the lines she spouts about being “pro-respect” and “representing all residents equally” then she would know better than to bring these unfit agents of her party anywhere near government office. This just further proves her inability to lead with the best interests of the residents of Sussex County in mind. Instead the director only focuses on what is in the best interest of her handlers and her party.
The voters of Sussex County must wake up to the blatant corruption we are facing here at home. Our county and our neighbors deserve better.
The Sussex County Democratic Committee