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Fort Lee Republican Candidates Won’t Take Campaign Contributions

Peter B. Campbell and Thomas Bennett say they can still win the election without taking money from special interests, or anyone for that matter, and that they’re running as independents.

The two Republican candidates for Fort Lee Borough Council have vowed not to take any campaign money or contributions, and they’re planning to win the election.

Peter B. “Mack” Campbell, who’s running with Thomas Bennett and opposing Democratic incumbents Harvey Sohmer and Joseph Cervieri, said there are “only two candidates running this year with a real chance of winning and are not taking any money.”

Campbell, who ran for Council once before—he ran in 2003, when he opposed now Bergen County Freeholder Joan Voss of Fort Lee and Cervieri—said he decided not to take any money because of his “own personal beliefs.”

“Running against the best of interests in a town like this, you can’t be completely objective unless you’re not taking money,” Campbell told Patch, adding that he spent about $3,000 out of his own pocket in 2003 but garnered 35 percent of the vote nonetheless.

He also said that he and Bennett are “on board with everything,” including not taking money and not using lawn signs, while running on the following four campaign promises:

  • Passing a town ordinance banning red light cameras in Fort Lee
  • No new taxes and no tax increases “across the board,” including no new fines, no penalties assessments or bonds
  • A moratorium on spending
  • “Accountability and objectivity”

“The families of Fort Lee have to do with less; the town has got to do the same,” Campbell said, adding that by not taking money, the two Republicans are “not running away from the Republican Party.”

“We’re running independent of the Republican party,” he said. “We are running as independents; as men who understand the demographics of this town and the duties of a representative of the people, and we’ll be representing all the people—Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Meanwhile Cervieri and Sohmer say they are running a more traditional campaign.

“We’re not taking any contributions from special interests,” Cervieri said. “Our ‘special interests’ are our constituents.”

Bennett and Campbell previously said they would not use lawn signs during the campaign this year and called on Cervieri and Sohmer to follow suit. But the two Democrats said that was not something they were prepared to do.

“They make all kinds of insinuations about corruption in government, which there are none,” Cervieri said. “And they’re trying to paint it as if we’re working everything in a kind of a like cloak-and-dagger society, which shows that they’re completely out of touch with reality.”

Cervieri added, “I think that this year the Republican party decided that anybody who wants to run can run,” calling Campbell a “reluctant candidate who said he wasn’t really interested in running,” and that he said in June he was just “holding a spot” and would support whoever “came in third.”

“They had to have two names on the primary ballot,” Cervieri said. “They’re trying to engage us so that we can take them seriously, but in reality, we’re running on our record. We believe that we’ve done a good job, and we continue to do a good job. We’re still enthusiastic about representing all of the people of Fort Lee to provide the best government service at the best available price.”

He added, “They want to try to throw mud at us, let them do it; we have a very clear conscience.”

Said Campbell, "In a year in which an orgy of money is perverting the political process, [not taking campaign contributions, including in-kind contributions] is a great message," adding, "The only question is, will anyone hear this message?"

carol simon October 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I have not been following local politics these days so I don't really understand the message conveyed by this strategy these candidates are exhibiting. It seems only logical that if you play the game of politics, you follow the general rules and protocal. Otherwise, your message is mute.
William Mays October 13, 2012 at 01:13 AM
The strategy is "I don't have any money to spend on campaigning, or I just don't want to spend money on a lost cause, so I'll just make it look like I'm too cool to accept campaign money.
Dan Nelson October 25, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I made the mistake one time of giving a $250 contribution for a Fort Lee woman who unsuccessfully ran against loretta weinberg in a democratic party ..My mistake was giving her cash, which i later found out was never reported , she just pocketed the money ..That was the day my opinion of her changed 180 degrees .. And i would never trust her or any other politicians ever again !!!

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