Councilmen Will Not Seek Re-election

Citing personal and business commitments, Deputy Mayor Greg Gallo and Councilman Mike Testa have opted out of a potential second term. Mayor John Button is undecided.

Stretched thin by family and business commitments, Deputy Mayor Greg Gallo and Councilman Mike Testa will not seek re-election this fall.

Gallo, who was first elected to council four years ago, said a combination of serious illness among close family members and a hectic work life conspired to cause him to reverse course a few weeks ago.

“Prior to that it was all systems go (on a re-election campaign),” said the Republican councilman. “The triggering event was one of my close family members has sort of declined further … and it just became obvious that I would not be able to do a good job on the campaign part. I need to focus on my family and my growing business and finishing the term.”

It’s no secret that if you’re doing it right, holding public office is essentially a part-time job, and that’s how Gallo said he approached the position when he was elected four years ago.

“There’s no requirement that says how much time a council person should or shouldn’t spend. But I do everything in my life ... in detail,” said Gallo, who spent two years on the Planning Board and currently sits on the Economic Development Advisory Committee. He estimated he spends anywhere from eight to 10 hours a week on the low end, all the way up to 20 hours a week, wearing his deputy mayor hat.

Though township council’s plate is currently packed with a number of incomplete projects—the municipal complex and , to name a couple—Gallo isn’t worried about leaving office with unfinished business. He believes some of those projects will reach a degree of fruition in the next several months.

And looking back on the last four years, Gallo said he’s proud of what he and his fellow council members have accomplished, rattling off a list of successes that included outsourcing the town’s emergency dispatch (“It saved the town a fortune, and there was no degradation in safety or service”), renegotiating all but one of the township’s union contracts, and reducing spending below where it was in 2008.

‘There is life outside part-time volunteerism’

Testa explained his motivations for turning down a second run closely mirror Gallo’s, and it came down to maintaining a work-life-civic duty balance.

“I’ve got four kids—one going to college, another on the horizon (of college),” Testa said. “I’ve got a couple businesses … Like everybody else, they require more and more attention. I’ve got to be honest with myself and my family. There is life outside of part-time volunteerism.

“Like Greg, I don’t do anything halfway,” he added. “I’m fully invested when I do things, so to be able to kind of steal time from one or the other, at the expense of one or the other, is just not right.”

Though Testa and Gallo came to their decisions independently, Testa said he was influenced by the deputy mayor’s bow out. Gallo, Testa and Mayor John Button ran as a team four years ago, and Testa had hoped they’d do so again.

“After going through the campaign and four years … I guess I can’t see starting over with other people,” said Testa, “and if that’s one of the possible outcomes, then for me it’s an easy out.”

Button said he knew Gallo wasn’t going to run and wasn’t surprised when told Wednesday night of Testa’s decision.

“I regard both Mike and Greg as not only very informed and good council colleagues, but also as friends,” Button said. “It’s a loss for the township to have that knowledge and energy go away … I’m obviously disappointed.”

Asked what his own intentions are, Button, who was also first elected to council four years ago, said, “I have to think it through.”

He expects to come to a decision soon, he said, “'cause it’s only fair.”

Councilwoman Stacey Jordan, who along with Councilman (and running mate) Chris Chiacchio took office last year, said of Gallo's and Testa's departure: "Anybody who gives any kind of time for public service, I respect them." 

Walking away, but not disappearing

Like all elected officials, Gallo and Testa have been the subject of criticism during their tenure. But Gallo made it clear his detractors had nothing to do with his decision to walk away—quite the opposite.

“You almost have to expect (criticism) goes with the territory,” the deputy mayor said. “It’s disappointing that some of that nonsense occurs, because … most people that are throwing stones don’t really have command of the facts or the discipline needed to run an organization, or are more focused on politics instead of solutions. But that in no way shaped my decision. If anything, it kind of kept me focused and kept me committed to it.”

Testa said overall the impression he gets around town is most people are pleased and appreciative of the work council has done over the last four years.

“You add it up in its total, there’s a lot more positive than negative,” he said.

While they may be stepping back from public office, both Gallo and Testa said they have no intention of completely disengaging and will remain invested in the community.

“Walking away is not about disappearing,” said Testa. “It’s simply about prioritizing my time and family life and career, and then still finding a way to make a difference on behalf of things that I value for my community.”

fyathyrio March 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Abe, how has he failed?
fyathyrio March 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
utr, what would you do to prevent "for sale"?
utr March 12, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Lets start by getting out of business' we can't run as efficiently as the private sector, water and sewage for starters. Next, eat our losses on the town hall fiasco and rent. If the private leagues want fake grass let them pay for it. Give people a chance to opt out of services like trash collection. Turn the building department over to the county, there is no way building permits are covering the cost of that department. Reduce the police force, read the crime logs it's all shoplifting at the mall, let PREIT pay that bill. When the town does have burglaries it seems like the police are powerless to stop them. Did you ever ask your self why the town owns ladder trucks that go up to 8 stories when our tallest buildings are only 3 or 4? Waste. Privatize the school buses or make that an optional service. 20 minutes to let my kid off at the UES the other day because everybody drives their little angels instead of making use of the buses. We need to trim as much fat as possible and start talking to Cinniminson, Delran and Maple Shade about sharing essential services.
Strawbridge lake dam fan March 12, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Is that what you would like town council to consider "the ultra package" and bust everything to privatization ? Have you been to any town council meetings or budget meetings and boe meetings and stood up and make these suggestions? What about our current township employees? Next, Let's see even though you are guessing that the mayor will resign or "should resign" tonight, what does the parliamentarian rule that a replacement can be voted on Tuesday night. Or does he/she think rule that another meeting, near or at the filing deadline should occur? The plot thickens...
Hooton Creek Historian March 12, 2012 at 08:42 PM
why even promulgate what the mayor should or shouldn't do based on "rumors" give the dude some respect and let him decide whats best for himself
utr March 12, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I was asked how I'd stop the "For Sale" signs the only way to do it is cut our spending. At some point this town needs to have a serious discussion as to what are essential municipal services and what is non-essential. Lets take trash for example, let's assume trash collection is 5% of our municipal tax bill, let's say landfill costs are another 2.5%. If you had to make a choice between the convenience of having your garbage picked up at the end of your driveway or saving 5% on your taxes which would allow you to stay in town but you had to drive your trash to Borton Landing Rd weekly would you do it. If the answer is yes trash collection becomes a non essential service for you. Pool that cost to the people who want the convenience and let the people who don't have a tax reduction.
utr March 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I didn't start a rumor, I asked a question. But if you want a rumor here's one that was texted to me last night by a high ranking official in the Button Administration. Its an age old limerick: There was a mayor in Nantucket, who bought a home so nice you could...................
utr March 13, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Tonight is pasta night, a little gravy, some Maglio sausage what else is happening Jimbo? Romney is going to win a southern state tonight even with his cheesy grits comment
Hooton Creek Historian March 13, 2012 at 01:31 PM
what does Button owning a vacation home have to do with anything? This is just childish.
utr March 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM
That is correct sir this is totally childish. You need to sharpen your sense of humor and take everything on this blog at face value.
There's Been a Leak March 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM
the ones that need to have a sense of humor and thick skin are the three blokes getting the targets pinned on their backs tonight by the Rs
fyathyrio March 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
utr, thanks worth looking at
utr March 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Leaky, You are so right and the class of our party. The town has lost a good steward in you.
There's Been a Leak March 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
you think i'm button? are you out of your mind? too much toxic waste? if i were any of the current council members I would be apologizing for screwing up our town not blogging with you
utr March 13, 2012 at 03:25 PM
No, I thought you might be one of the others but I can appreciate your position. I too disagree with a lot that has happened, but I still think Gallo and Testa were doing what was best for the town in their minds, which is admirable. No offense to you intended.
fyathyrio March 13, 2012 at 03:50 PM
"disagree with a lot that has happened" care to elaborate?
utr March 13, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Sure nothing better to do for a while. IMO the KIDS program was equivalent to Obamacare, the three councilman wanted it and they didn't care how they got it, whether by bond or open space funds. It should have never been brought up for a vote when they knew they did not have the votes to pass it for bonding and when the bonding was rejected the project should have been shelved until there was a better appetite in town for it. Instead, the appearance of having a project shoved down our throats like or not when the suggested using open space funds to circumvent 2/5's of the council's will. We can argue the merits of KIDS but it wasn't an urgent matter. Yet they still harped on it like we would no longer exist if it didn't happen. Unfortunately, they pissed off a lot of their base on that one issue.
fyathyrio March 13, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Kids same as obamacare? comedic. don't see how fixing fields compares but ok what else?
fyathyrio March 13, 2012 at 04:20 PM
what are you talkin about? I don't have my decoder ring with me.
Jimbo March 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Utr believes in renting, town offices, renting turf field, does believe in ownership
utr March 13, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Please don't tell me what I believe. Rent offices for our town employees happens to make a lot of sense. Why spend 15 million dollars when there is a good possibility in 5-10 years a school in town will close and we can use that for offices. BTW, the old town hall was servicable, has anyone ever wondered why the insurance company only paid 800K on the loss? I think synthetic turf is dangerous to our kids (ask any professional player, I guarantee they will agree with me) as well as an extravagant accessory this town can neither afford nor need in these economic times. As for ownership, I own my home and I'd like to live in it when I retire, if we keep raising taxes that may not be an option. I'm sure I not alone in my final premise.
utr March 13, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I know the analogy is thin but both were unpopular agendas pushed in lieu of other more important business the government (both national and local) should have been addressing.
Jimbo March 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
You sound like petey? Hmm how about homeybrewer? Either you want refurb or you want to rent, real nice! Come on the town knows this needs to be done pal.
utr March 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I've been forth coming. Why does it have to be done? The town's been running pretty good in rented offices for the past four or so years. Why, please tell me.
fyathyrio March 14, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Did the mrmc have a vote? How did it go?
Main street stroll March 14, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Just wondering how the Parliamentarian ruled on the discussion of candidates? Was it unanimous on their slate choice? If not why not?
Main street stroll March 14, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Does the patch have any more details , I see your breaking news about button but where are the details?
Rob Scott (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Working on it now, but still waiting for more details. It's going to be a late one. Sorry.
Trunks and Tusks September 13, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Breaking news with town council?
Bill November 27, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Hey Wasupin'14? Who's running for town council? Is chacios and Jordan up this go around?


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