Gubernatorial debate in Whitesboro draws support
- July 24, 2001 -
By W.F. KEOUGH
Staff Writer, (609) 463-6710
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — A GOP-issued challenge that Democrat James McGreevey debate
minority issues with Republican Bret Schundler here in Cape May County has
piqued the interest of some black leaders.
Supporters of the forum proposed by Cape May County Regular Republican Party
Chairman David Von Savage say a gubernatorial debate in this county would help
advance both minority issues and Cape May County issues.
“This would be the best way and first chance to have people be candid with them
in their community,” said West Cape May Mayor Robert Jackson.
“The African-American community in South Jersey needs to unify itself more,”
said the Rev. Gregory Johnson, of Ocean City. “Racial profiling is something we
should be concerned about. Crime is something we should be concerned about.
Affordable housing. School construction. We have a lot of issues.”
Johnson, an assistant pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, is also president of the
Ocean City Board of Education; both he and Jackson are black. Both are also
But Von Savage has irritated some by his suggestion that the forum, which he
suggested should be held in Whitesboro, be named in memory of Dorothy Mack, a
longtime civil-rights leader in Cape May County.
“I don’t want my mother’s name used for anyone’s political gains,” said Donna
Mack-Alston, who said her mother “was for the rights of everyone.”
“She was well-respected in this community and throughout the county,” said
Mack-Alston, who said nobody asked her family about using her mother’s name.
Curtis Miller, a former Wildwood city councilman who is active in minority
issues, also questioned the county GOP’s motivation, saying the organization
offers little to minorities.
“We’ve been ignored for years,” said Miller, who is also Republican.
Miller softened his stance somewhat after speaking to Von Savage on Monday
afternoon. Miller said he still believed that local issues should take priority
over courting a gubernatorial debate.
“If nothing else, he opened the door for some dialogue, and that’s not bad,”
Miller said of Von Savage.
Von Savage said Monday he isn’t budging from his challenge to McGreevey.
Von Savage said he was also dissatisfied with McGreevey’s remark Saturday that a
debate at Rowan University would reach more people than one in Cape May County.
“We’re talking about this debate in addition to the one at Rowan University,”
Von Savage said, calling the forum an “unscripted, Lincoln-Douglas style debate”
that would be run by the minority community.”
”It wouldn’t be a bunch of white guys standing around asking questions,” Von
Cape May County Democratic Party Chairman John Rauh, who was given the challenge
on Friday, said he passed it on to McGreevey’s campaign.
Von Savage said the debate he’s proposed — and which Schundler is prepared to
attend — would represent a “historic” moment for Cape May County and minorities.
“Where’s the controversy in that?” Von Savage asked. “Two candidates talking
about racial profiling, about consent searches, about minority issues?”