A self-professed – and proud – creature of government, attorney David DeWeese embraced his public service in advance of what he said is certain to be the coming onslaught by incumbent state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1), who DeWeese said is going to try to dismantle him as a pension padder.
DeWeese started the race by trying to depict Van Drew as a career politician, to which the Democrat replied, “I’m a dentist,” while his allies chuckled at the prospect of facing DeWeese.
But today, the former judge attempted to get in front of the issue, releasing a statement after the annual Cape May Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and calling for a three debate schedule with Van Drew – one each in Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic.
“I have no doubt that very soon Jeff Van Drew will begin to run negative radio and television ads and send political mail accusing me of being a pension padder based on my public service,” said the candidate. “Let me say that I believe public service is a noble calling. I believe there are a great many people who are in public service jobs for all the right reasons. I am proud of my public service. I will not be apologizing for or defending my service or the pension that I receive as a result of my public service.”
DeWeese served as a municipal court judge for twenty two years. Several municipalities subsequently appointed him to be their judge.
“I am sure that many people do not know what being a municipal court judge entails,” said DeWeese. “Some people who do not understand the job will characterize it as a part time position. It is far from a part time position. As a municipal court judge, you are on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and 365 days per year. Basically every night there are calls between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. requesting the issuance of warrants, the setting of bail, the review of search warrants and requests for temporary domestic violence restraining orders. Requests for domestic violence restraining orders require the judge to take testimony over the phone from a victim of domestic abuse. The protection of these victims was of utmost importance. I conducted hundreds of DWI trials and criminal trials and made the difficult decisions that led to convictions that sent people to jail. I was not a pension padder. I was a dedicated public servant doing my best to serve the interests of justice.”
At least twice in his remarks, DeWeese alluded to what he believes will be the incoming salvos of his financially well-heeled opponent, who just last week held a successful fundraiser for his re-election campaign.
“Let me tell you about my pension,” said the challenger. “I had three years in the system as a municipal attorney and prosecutor before I became a judge. After twenty five years of contributing to the pension system, i now collect approximately $40,000 per year as a pension. I certainly didn’t get rich being a municipal court judge and I’m not getting rich off my pension.
“There is a question that you should all ask Jeff Van Drew about his pension when I take his seat in the Senate. As a result of his public service, he is going to be entitled to a state pension for his 4 part time elected positions as Mayor, Freeholder, Assemblyman and Senator (he served as Mayor and Freeholder at the same time). Is he willing to say now that if he attacks me in this campaign for having a pension that he will give up the pension that he is entitled to? Because if he is not, then he will be a hypocrite the minute his first negative campaign ad comes out. Get your mud boots out, because it is coming.”