A Toms River councilman representing a ward battered by Hurricane Sandy has added his voice to those criticizing the state Senate president's recent remarks about the storm.
Steve Sweeney, Democratic state senator from West Deptford who serves as Senate president, said that Gov. Chris Christie’s "job package is a hurricane. I guess he prayed a lot and got lucky a storm came," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sweeney, speaking Monday afternoon, was making a point that a natural disaster shouldn’t be an employment solution for New Jersey.
"Senator Sweeney’s realization that he put his foot in his mouth doesn’t erase the ignorant and insensitive comments he made about the storm," said Brian Kubiel, who represents Toms River's Ward 2, in a prepared statement.
"Everyone in public life misspeaks from time to time, but this was worse. The fact of the matter is that unscripted moments like that often reveal how someone truly feels," Kubiel said. "I want to publicly invite the Senate President to visit my Ward and see the struggles people are having trying to rebuild firsthand. He should look those people in the eye and apologize."
Sweeny immediately apologized for the statement, but it was too late.
Republicans quickly began issuing releases slamming Sweeney for his remarks, made ahead of Christie’s State of the State speech Tuesday. A press release from the governor’s office simply titled "Lucky" outlined the devastation from Superstorm Sandy.
Kubiel, a 46-year Ocean County resident and former fire chief, said that Sweeney's comments put partisan politics ahead of doing the right thing.
"Just like the actions of Speaker [John] Boehner and some Republicans in Washington last week, Senator Sweeney’s comments [Monday] are just another indication of how toxic and divisive our politics are right now," said Kubiel, referring to the delayed vote on federal Sandy relief funding. "We need more leadership and less partisanship."