Mayor’s missteps over years have hurt Freehold Borough

Guest Column


When Freehold Borough Mayor Jack McGackin died in 1985, Mike Wilson was called on to fill very big shoes. Mayor Wilson never grew into those shoes and after 22 years it is time to step down.

When announcing this year, the mayor stated that “[s]ome of the friends I grew up with here in Freehold moved away a long time ago, looking in other places or what seemed to them better things. I didn’t. I stayed and I tried to make things better here.” History can be the only fair judge of his complete record and I suspect she will not be impressed.

Mayor Wilson presided over the decision to legitimize illegal immigration in the borough by working to create a muster zone. That decision was a disaster. I wrote numerous op-ed pieces taking the borough to task for setting up a magnet for illegal labor. When the borough finally realized several years ago that this decision had brought unforeseen problems to the borough, it attempted to change course.

I publicly pushed the borough to take aggressive legal, political and public relations positions to reverse a tide that was destined to sink the town. The mayor was unable or unwilling to take that aggressive action. Instead, the borough found itself on the defensive, under the microscope of an unfriendly, partisan federal judge, and the target for national open borders activists.

The mayor made fiery speeches, but took no real action. Like many elected officials, he waited, hoping that some other elected official would walk the tough path and solve the problems of the town – problems he helped to exacerbate. That never happened.

Last year Mayor Wilson stunned the residents of Freehold again by accepting a settlement in a lawsuit by open borders activists.

The settlement placed the borough under the watchful eye of the court and it handed activists a bogus public relations claim that the borough was violating civil rights, and that the borough was a disgraced town practicing discrimination. The practical result of the settlement was to tie the hands of law enforcement in dealing with illegal immigration.

As recently as July, a “swarming incident” found a borough resident helpless to an onslaught of day laborers who jumped in her pick-up truck, assuming that she was just another contractor looking to exploit laborers and beat the tax man. The police were apologetic, but unwilling to take action due to the settlement. This is the legacy of Mayor Wilson.

In August, Mayor Wilson again threw his lawful residents overboard to drown in the rising tide of illegal immigration.

The previously tough-talking mayor sent a letter to Gov. Corzine – begging to be a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission set up to help the “immigrant community.”

In his letter the mayor began to praise the positive effects of the illegal invasion of Freehold, deliberately attempting to merge the concepts of immigrant and illegal immigrant.

Mayor Wilson wrote, “The positive advantages are obvious and they are welcome. The influx of immigrants has enriched our town’s culture with a group of individuals who have a profound work ethic, strong family and religious values, and have even added new, vibrant businesses to our downtown.”

In September, Mayor Wilson apparently appointed an active member of CASA Freehold to the town’s Human Relations Commission.

The News Transcript said of this organization, “Casa Freehold, by virtue of its actions, comments and apparent support of illegal immigration, will never have, and does not deserve, the trust, respect and cooperation of borough officials.” Mayor Wilson just gave CASA Freehold the respect it does not deserve.

After an inquiry about the residency of town committee appointees on a Freehold blog site, it was suggested that the CASA Freehold appointee is neither a lawful resident of Freehold nor the United States of America.

Since that allegation, which admittedly is not substantiated, Mayor Wilson and his regime have gone silent, except to attack the site.

The mayor then canceled the mid- October public Borough Council meeting, and his council ticket-mates refuse to debate – recently calling (a) school PTO not a “legitimate” forum. The lawful residents of Freehold have the right to know if the tough-talking mayor of the borough has appointed an illegal alien to a policy making committee.

When seeking his re-election bid to serve out 26 years, Mayor Wilson said, “I want to keep following through on that decision I made a long time ago – that decision to stay, to try to make things better here in our hometown.”

His decision to seek re-election is far more likely to be rooted in his political appointment as a paid consultant to the Turnpike Authority than it is in some lofty notion of service to the borough. Let’s hope he does not do for the Turnpike Authority what he has done for the borough of Freehold.

The lawful residents of Freehold can ill-afford four more years like the last 22. The shoes were always too big for you to fill Mr. Mayor, even if you found them comfortable.

Richard K. Kelsey, a native of Freehold Borough, now resides in Reston, Va.