Political Message Declared in Spray Paint

May 23, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The political rivalry in Stafford Township has taken a bitter and vulgar turn this week, in advance of the June 5 primary election. Monday night, vandals defaced a 4-by-8-foot political sign for Mayor John Spodofora’s team with the words “stolen valor” and a crude phallic drawing. The sign is located in the grass on the south side of Route 72, at the entrance to the Ocean Acres development.

Township Administrator James Moran said a conflict had arisen on social media regarding the legality of the sign, which is valued at hundreds of dollars. The sign will be replaced, he added, and police are investigating. The vandalism is a fourth-degree crime, he added.

The insult alludes to a controversy that began shortly before the 2015 election, when retired U.S. Navy man and stolen valor activist Earl Galloway accused Spodofora of exaggerating his military service, by describing himself as a Vietnam War veteran in his professional bio on the town’s website. All along, the mayor has said his security classification prohibits him from talking specifically about his involvement in that war or being able to prove he ever set “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. He nonetheless changed his bio to read Vietnam Era veteran.

In the mayor’s defense, Moran said Spodofora legitimately served eight years in the Navy and received a medal for being under enemy fire during the Vietnam War.

Spodofora said the actions of his accusers speak volumes about their maturity level and poor judgment, especially considering all the school buses that drive through that intersection.

“I do not condone negative campaigning,” he said. And property destruction takes it to a whole new level.

Spodofora cautions the public to be wary of misinformation that proliferates on the internet and encourages any resident with questions or concerns about his political or military service, or anything else, to contact him directly for answers. “Don’t be afraid of the truth,” he said.

“I return every phone call and email I get,” he said.  —V.F.

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