I admit it, I haven’t always been warm and fuzzy with the county party where I live. The previous county chair didn’t much like me and, to be honest, I wasn’t his biggest fan either. My problem was that the town in which I am the GOP municipal chair, Greenwich Township, was treated as the proverbial red-headed step child, despite having the currently longest serving Republican mayor in the county. You might think the former leadership might try to help the guy a little bit. Instead it was, “Oh, they’re fine. They raise their own money, blah, blah…” It never seemed to matter that the Democrats always have a target on the mayor’s back.
Fast forward to the present and all I can is the new Gloucester County chairwoman, Jacci Vigilante, is putting in the effort. From the new and improved website to now hosting a monthly breakfast, which I unfortunately cannot attend as I’ll be doing the radio show with Bob, and a monthly Gloucester County Happy Hour designed to build some camaraderie among the rank-and-file, something that’s been missing in Glouco for years.
Not only is Vigilante trying to build camaraderie, she’s making the effort to rebuild previously burned bridges. She took the time to sit with Greenwich Township Mayor George Shivery and me in a meeting brokered by state GOP Executive Director Theresa Winegar, and trust me, Vigilante knew she was heading into hostile territory. Vigilante did as a party leader should and worked to rebuild a bridge that had been, not just burned, nuked by the previous chair.
I’m not always the easiest guy to get along with, as I explained to Vigilante when I introduced my mayor, “Everyone loves George, me, I’m an acquired taste.” She made the effort, there is now peace between the county and municipal parties. Even better, she gets that in my role as a municipal chair my chief responsibility is to support my elected officials above all else and that anyone, regardless of party, taking a shot at or disrespecting my mayor will suffer the consequences.
Gloucester County’s new GOP Chairwoman is not relying on what others have to say and is actively meeting with fellow Republicans and forming her own opinions. In other words, she’s acting like a leader. She’s giving Glouco Republicans a reason to get a little excited.
She’s got some opportunities coming up. There’s a special election in the 5th district for assembly. The district is shared with Camden County and not very winnable but, working with the folks in Camco it’s possible to put together a spirited campaign. Vigilante also has to choose a consensus candidate for the special election for County Surrogate.
Bottom line: Vigilante is doing a good job, especially considering the condition the previous chair left the party in. She’s light years ahead of the last chair. Let’s hope she can keep it up.