Acropolis Strikes Back Following TRMUA Criticism
Brick mayor defends against criticism from political foes, friends
Brick's mayor, after being dragged into the mudslinging of a mayoral race in a different town, has defended his record and has some tough words for Toms River mayoral candidate Paul Brush.
The controversy started last week at Toms River Township's Council meeting, where Brush called for the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority to be dissolved. Brick Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis has been the executive director of that authority since last summer. Brush, Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher's opponent in Toms River's mayoral election this year, has been campaigning on a promise to dissolve the authority, which he has called a "patronage pit" for GOP politicians.
At the council meeting, Toms River Councilman Gregory McGuckin denounced Brush's move as a "campaign-year tactic" but added that it's something the township has been quietly investigating.
"It's old news," Acropolis said, of his job directing the Toms River MUA, at which he makes $93,000. "I've been the executive director for a year."
Compounding matters, John Ducey, a Democratic candidate in this year's Brick Township council election, called on Acropolis to resign from either his mayoral position, at which he makes $53,000, or the Toms River MUA job.
"Acropolis has abandoned his duties as mayor of Brick in favor of his higher-paying patronage job in Toms River," Ducey said in a statement to Brick Patch. "It's no surprise that our property taxes in Brick have gone up 24 percent in the last year alone, with our mayor constantly out of town."
But Acropolis said he puts in his hours in Brick.
"I'm there pretty much every single day," Acropolis said, explaining that, essentially, every elected official has a full-time job in addition to his elected office, and needs a primary source of income once a political stint is over.
"If someone was the manager of a ShopRite making, let's say, $70,000 a year, and became mayor, does somebody really expect that manager to leave that job, take the mayor's job at $50,000? What are you going to go back to?" Acropolis said. "Every single elected official has a primary source of income."
He also took aim at Brush's former stint as Toms River mayor, which ended in 2007.
"Other than changing the name from Dover to Toms River, I don't know what he did," said Acropolis.
As for Kelaher, Acropolis said, as he understands it, some quotes were "taken out of context" in the media.
Acropolis did say he would support the idea of regionalizing authorities such as the Toms River MUA, but not eliminating them and having municipal governments swallow them up.
But back in Brick, Ducey said Acropolis holding two jobs is just wrong.
"Acropolis should resign immediately," Ducey said. "Two full-time salaries for one politician, at a cost of $146,000 to taxpayers, is just wrong."
Acropolis is not up for re-election this year, but the majority of seats on Brick's governing body are up for grabs. Republicans currently control all seven seats. Ducey, along with running mates Susan Lydecker, Jim Fozman and Bob Moore – who also called for Acropolis' resignation – would all have to come out victorious in November to wrest control of the council from the Republicans.