By: Jeff Epstein, editor, Citizens’ Media TV
Edited by: Ben Szioli
WESTAMPTON, NJ — On the evening of Thursday, August 3, 2017, Citizens’ Media TV exclusively learned that the Westampton and Burlington County Democratic Parties have decided to nominate Sandy Henley to the ballot position vacated by placeholder candidate Wilbur Williams. Henley will now accompany Linda Hynes on the Democratic ticket for Westampton Township Committee. At the time of this writing, although Henley’s petition and related paperwork have yet to be filed with the Burlington County Board of Elections, Hynes has confirmed to Citizens’ Media TV, by phone from her office, that Henley’s nomination is imminent.
A significant contributor to Hynes and Williams’ primary victory on June 6th is the fact that they were listed “on the Democratic line,” meaning in the left-most column (“column one”), along with all other Democrats — including gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy. This is a major benefit of partisan elections: local candidates can “ride the coattails” of same-party candidates at all levels of government. (In a non-partisan election for township committee, candidates are listed in a different vertical line on the ballot than Democratic candidates, such as those for assembly or governorship.)
It is a long-standing tradition to place incumbents on the same ballot-line as their same-party peers. But the Westampton Democratic Party “banished” Westampton Mayor C. Andre Daniels (currently the committee’s longest serving member) and his running mate, Machel Pettis, to the far bottom corner of the ballot. Between them and the Democratic line were five columns of blank space. There is comprehensive background on this story in our original article on C. Andre Daniels and the Westampton Democrat Township Committee.
Henley, who happens to be a neighbor of Mayor Daniels, has served on the Burlington County Planning and Zoning Board since 2015. He is a long-term employee of Wells Fargo and graduated Rowan University in 1999 with a degree in economics. Beyond the board membership, Henley has never been a candidate in New Jersey, according to the absence of records on the state’s online Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) system.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton
The fact that Henley will soon become the nominee was brought to our attention by two anonymous sources. These sources also suggested that Henley may have a relationship with New Jersey’s seventh legislative district assemblyman, Troy Singleton. Before Hynes confirmed that the nomination was imminent, we asked Assemblyman Singleton for comment. He responded with high praise for Henley:
My almost 25 year relationship with Sandy Henley has afforded me a front row seat as I have watched his maturation in the financial services industry, as a devoted husband, father, community leader and role model.
I can think of no better person to be one of the standard bearers of our party and to represent the citizens of Westampton. Sandy has the ability to articulate his values, beliefs, and expectations in a clear and concise manner. More importantly though, not only can he articulate this but he also takes actions that are a reflection of exactly what he values, believes in, and expects. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support his candidacy because I know that the only people he will be beholden to are the working families of Westampton.
(Soon after receiving his initial statement, Assemblyman Singleton clarified that, although the Westampton Democratic Party did indeed approach and was considering Henley to be their nominee, he was unaware whether Henley was actually chosen at the time.)
We also asked the Assemblyman to respond to the fact that Westampton is in District eight, not his own District seven, and to the potential accusation of inappropriately attempting to influence elections outside of his district. Singleton responded, “If the charge is that I, as a Democrat, am supportive of Democrats both in the seventh district and outside of the seventh district, then that, I am absolutely guilty of.” After speaking with Singleton, we then received Daniels statement, where he happened to express disappointment towards Singleton:
Quite frankly, I’m disappointed, shocked and amazed that despite the record of my unequivocal and indisputable support of Troy Singleton who would work his way to be the 7th District’s Assemblyman and soon to be State Senator would be recompensed with such an unfortunate, yet expected display of special interests over people.
On June 30, three weeks after the primary, Daniels filed a lawsuit arguing that he is the rightful owner of this nomination. As reported in the Burlington County Times on July 22:
Daniels is suing Westampton Democratic nominee Wilbur Williams; the Westampton Township Democratic Municipal Committee; committee chairman Robert Maybury; committee member Carolyn Chang; Joseph Andl, chairman of the Burlington County Democratic Committee; and Burlington County Clerk Timothy Tyler.
Screenshots from njcourts.gov
The defendants of this lawsuit are Maybury, Chang, Andl, Wilbur, and Tyler. Hynes and Pettis (and likely, soon, Henley) are considered “interested parties.”
At the heart of the lawsuit is the legitimacy of the Westampton Democratic Convention and Williams’ candidacy.
Regarding the convention, both Daniels and Pettis assert that, not only were they not invited to the local Democratic convention (where nominees and ballot positions are both determined), they still do not know when and where this meeting took place. According to Daniels:
The illegal denial of my constitutional right to screen at Westampton’s democratic candidate convention was never about me or even Westampton for that matter. It was always about solidifying control, power and the influence of special interests over our township, by a select few who operate behind closed doors and in smoke-filled rooms.
Regarding Williams’ candidacy, Daniels asserts that Wilbur Williams, the original candidate that Henley now replaces, was nothing more than a “placeholder” — put on the ballot simply to occupy the space until such a time that a true candidate could be put forward by the party. On May 28th, Williams was quoted as saying:
I can’t say it any more clearly than I am not a candidate. If elected I will not take the seat…. I’m 70 years old and I want to do whatever I want, when I want to do it.
If he so openly said this just over a week before the primary, did Williams ever want be a candidate? If he did not, then his ballot petition and “Oath of Allegiance” are arguably invalid. Did anyone else, such as those who approved and notarized these documents, know that Williams was never interested in running? If so, it could imply that the petition and oath are invalid and perhaps should be discarded, revoking Williams’ candidacy retroactively. And if this were to happen, then what of Linda Hynes’ candidacy and nomination, who shared the petition with Williams?
When asked to comment on the experience, Pettis responded:
I just want a fair election for the all voters and for all Westampton Democrats to know the truth about what is going on. It is very sad when we have people who want to serve others but cannot because of a few who don’t like them, or don’t want them to be in their club. If Mr. Williams didn’t want to be a candidate, he shouldn’t have signed any petitions. Those involved who knew he wasn’t interested from the beginning should not have went along with it. They notarized petitions and agreed to be your running mate! Both candidates should be removed from the ballot and their petitions thrown out!
Because Williams has now declined, or is about to decline, the nomination* more than sixty days in advance of the general election, a new candidate may be chosen “in the same manner.” Specifically, that means the nominee will be decided on, once again, by the Westampton Democratic Party and Westampton Democratic Committee (the sections of the Burlington County Democratic Committee existing in Westampton). The Westampton County Committee includes former committeewoman and mayor Carolyn Chang, and the chairman of the Westampton Democratic Party is former committeeman Robert Maybury. Both Maybury and Chang have experienced significant tensions with Daniels, the history of which is documented in our original article.
(* We have sent an OPRA request to the Burlington County Board Of Elections to confirm this, and will update the article when we receive a response.)
We asked Johnathan Wright, campaign manager for the Republicans opposing Hynes and Henley, for a response to the news:
Katherine Colona and David Guerrero welcome Mr. Henley to the campaign trail; while they are very concerned about the way in which Mr. Henley secured his nomination, that is an issue best left for Westampton Democrats to work out amongst themselves and/or in the courts. Westampton taxpayers are tired of the cronyism, tired of the drama, and are untrusting of anyone who would voluntarily align themselves with Robert Maybury, Carolyn Chang, Jason Carty and all of the other members of the Westampton and Mount Holly Democratic political machine. The Colona and Guerrero campaign is looking forward to continuing to share their positive message and letting their neighbors know what they stand for. We extend an invitation to Mrs. Hynes and Mr. Henley to participate in five debates, starting later this month of August, one debate to be held in each of our township’s five voting districts and moderated by the non-partisan League of Women Voters, so that residents can hear from all of the candidates directly and ask their questions.
Finally, here is Mayor Daniels’ full statement:
Today what I have been saying all along has been validated, the final shoe has dropped. The illegal denial of my constitutional right to screen at Westampton’s democratic candidate convention was never about me or even Westampton for that matter. It was always about solidifying control, power and the influence of special interests over our township, by a select few who operate behind closed doors and in smoke-filled rooms.
My ouster from the Democratic slate, which is currently being challenged in the State Superior Court, was not about who I voted with, but which special interests I voted against. I have and will continue to unapologetically put Westampton and my neighbors’ best interests above all else, including the party I have loyally served for all of my life.
Mr. Henley is literally my neighbor and I have nothing but respect for him, his family who have signed off on every single candidate petition I have ever filed for public office; however, I question his willingness to sign-off on his allegiance to Robert Maybury, Chair of the Westampton Democratic Party who by his actions has denied and disenfranchised the voters of Westampton their constitutional rights to a fair, open and impartial local democratic convention pursuant to county and state Bylaws and past customs.
Quite frankly, I’m disappointed, shocked and amazed that despite the record of my unequivocal and indisputable support of Troy Singleton who would work his way to be the 7th District’s Assemblyman and soon to be State Senator would be recompensed with such an unfortunate, yet expected display of special interests over people. My faithfulness to the Democratic Party and to him has been obvious and apparent to all, from me and my family marching in parades on his behalf, to knocking on doors for him and democrats up and down the line.
Generally, the hands that held the smoking gun rarely expose themselves publicly for who they really are and what they stand for. I extend an invitation for the public to take a look at my voting record and review all of the votes that I have cast that moved the best interests of my constituents, but clearly upset the party bosses and the other powers that be in and surrounding Westampton. The truth has and always prevails. I encourage my neighbors to vote wisely this November 7th.
On Thursday, Citizens’ Media TV reached out to Chang, Maybury, and Henley, but have not yet received any responses. In addition, Hynes told Citizens’ Media TV that she currently has no campaign manager. We have since heard, off the record, potentially conflicting information. We have asked Ms. Hynes for clarification. If true, we will reach out to that person and update the article with their response.