HAMILTON, NJ -- No issue showed the deep divide between Hamilton's two mayoral candidates more than the past and present condition of the Hamilton Animal Shelter, one of many topics discussed at Wednesday's candidate forum.
Mayor Kelly Yaede stood by her administration’s operation of the shelter and called the investigation of it “a political hit job.”
“There are bragging rights going around this Township of who brought in the state and the Democratic Party and how proud they are that they did so,” Yaede claimed.
In the past year, the Township Council has convened a subcommittee to further investigate issues at the shelter but have been met with roadblocks from the Yaede Administration.
Council President Jeff Martin said that, as a member of council, he was proud to have called for an investigation into the animal shelter after he was presented with information from residents about activities going on at it.
Martin noted that a $1.1 million renovation and expansion that was allegedly intended to reduce the number of euthanasia and increase adoptions, but the outcome was different than anticipated.
“We were sold a bill of goods." said Martin. “Why was over a million dollars of taxpayer money spent on something that didn’t produce.”
Referring to the attempted deep dive into the operation of the shelter as a "witch hunt" Yaede said that while everything might not be perfect at the shelter the most pressing issue is chipped paint. "You paint any building, any room, and put a dog or a cat in it and there will be chipped paint,” said Yaede. “We are one of the only few shelters that euthanize for $100 if you don’t have the heart or resources.”
“To call it a ‘witch hunt’ when you had a republican county prosecutor appointed by a republican governor who somehow is trying to help the democrat running for mayor baffles me,” Martin said.
“Is it a world class shelter? Yes, it is, and I would hold up against any other shelter. But, when you look at the politics behind it, it saddened this entire town,” Yaede added. “Right now, the shelter is thriving.”
Hamilton Township Business Administrator Dave Kenny stated in August that "things are going well at the shelter." Since then the acting director went out on medical leave and the shelter was placed under his oversight.
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