The Toms River Township Council voted 5-1 to confirm the appointment of Anne Hammill-Pasqua as a new Municipal Court Judge, sparking controversy due to her role as the president of one of the two rival Republican clubs. Councilman Justin Lamb also raised concerns over potential nepotism influencing the appointment process, as Hammill-Pasqua is the sister-in-law of Council President Matthew Lotano, who abstained from voting.
Hammill-Pasqua’s appointment comes after she received the mayoral nod from Mayor Mo Hill. Her association with the Republicans for Toms River club, which supported Hill and the incumbent council members, has given rise to accusations about the fairness and transparency of the appointment.
While she serves on the township’s planning board and has chaired it in the past, her experience in municipal court matters remains uncertain, though she is a practicing attorney.
Mayor Hill defended the appointment, noting that Hammill-Pasqua was the sole Toms River resident to apply for the position. He emphasized the importance of having a local resident fill the role and highlighted the significance of gender representation, noting that she would become the second female municipal court judge in Ocean County.
However, Councilman Lamb questioned the decision, raising doubts about the appointment process. “Did it help that she’s also president of the Republicans for Toms River?” Lamb rhetorically asked during the session.
Lamb was the sole dissenting vote against the appointment, while the rest of the council members approved the decision. Councilman Dan Rodrick, who is expected to be the township’s next mayor, was absent from the meeting, and did not participate in the vote.
In response, Mayor Hill reiterated that the selection was based solely on her residency in Toms River and her qualifications. He disclosed that three candidates had applied for the position, and Hammill-Pasqua emerged as the most suitable candidate according to the mayor.
According to township spokesman Art Gallagher, the new Municipal Court Judge will receive an annual salary ranging from $50,200 to $80,000, depending on the number of sessions she presides over. Toms River’s ordinance allows for a salary range of $50,200 to $134,500 for municipal court judges.