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Group of Sussex Dems Expresses No-Confidence in Chair Rotondi

Katie Rotondi, the new chair of the Sussex County Democrats, feels the best way – perhaps the only way – to build the Democratic party in conservative Sussex County is by making progress town-by-town. She hopes local Democratic municipal candidates can make inroads in a handful of towns this fall.

A petition drive by some of her fellow Democrats to remove Sussex County Democratic Committee Chair Kate Rotondi from office has sparked an internal fight in the north country.

“We, the undersigned volunteers of the Sussex County Democratic Committee (SCDC), are writing to the leaders for the New Jersey Democratic Party to express our disapproval and ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in Katie Rotondi and her ability to function as Chairperson for the Sussex County Democratic Committee,” write the unhappy Democrats. “We understand the harshness of this decision and did not arrive at it carelessly.

“Under the leadership of  our former Sussex County Chairwoman, the Sussex County Democratic Executive Board Members and volunteers have always performed well together as a unified group. We were a group that worked harmoniously and effectively to get the job done no matter the obstacles. We were proud of our collaborative work ethics, and felt we were the glue that held our organization together.  We made great strides bringing in newly engaged activists and grassroots into the party and filled 180 vacancies.”

But since Rotondi’s election and throughout 2019, the group said it has had concerns regarding her “inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.  Over time, it was becoming clear that Ms. Rotondi also lacked critical leadership skills specifically regarding integrity, decision-making, and lack of respect for some of the SCDC members, volunteers, political candidates, and elected officials.”

Rotondi responded.

“Myself and other members of the executive board reached out to the women behind this petition multiple times to speak to them about concerns they had with the current leadership,” said the chair. “Nearly all of those went unanswered. Many of those that have signed the document have not attended a meeting in the last six months, or reside in the same town as the women that created the petition. The content is false, and it’s unfortunate that they are exploiting the toxic environment that women face in politics by tying their petition to that serious issue, as every false claim only serves to undermine actual victims and survivors. Coming off a year where we had our best off year election in the history of the county, there simply are not enough Democrats in Sussex County for us not to be united in this critical election year.”

The rest of the no-confidence statement by the group of 60 people:

“Her public actions caused much friction between us with our political allies and friends; both locally and statewide.

“She has prioritized her personal interests above the interests of the SCDC.  She has publicly advertised her close working relationship with certain public officials in order to bolster her own authority.

“Unbeknownst to us before her election as chair by the Democratic Sussex County Committee, we were never told about the existence and content of videos that Ms. Rotondi posted online prior to our county committee vote for her last spring. The videos were discovered and distributed widely online by a Republican operative throughout Sussex County bringing embarrassment and disgrace to the Sussex County Democratic Organization.

“As a volunteer organization, it is critical to both respect and inspire volunteers to want to donate their time to our organization so that we can carry on our mission. However, Ms. Rotondi has not been willing to listen to experienced volunteers on ideas, and she does not take criticism or mistakes calmly.  We feel she has little respect for political protocol, and does not meet nor prioritize important requirements needed for her duties as Chairperson. She is unprepared for meetings and events and her consistent tardiness displays a lack of respect to all who make the time and effort to fulfill their obligations.  Our County has atrophied under her tenure and this year is too critical for us to not take quick and decisive action.

“The Democratic community in Sussex County suffers because of her lack of solid leadership. Morale is low among the registered Democratic voters and we want a change of leadership. The volunteers who have been attempting to work with Ms. Rotondi for over this past year have given her many opportunities to lead and grow her skills.  But given that Ms. Rotondi will not accept any constructive criticism, disrespects the volunteers, and has driven four members of the Executive Board to resign, we are prepared to walk away from the Sussex County Democratic Committee if Ms. Rotondi continues as the Chairwoman.”

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