GALLOWAY Twp.,N.J. (CBS) — Residents in Galloway Township elect council members and those members pick a mayor among them. The Deputy Mayor is now stepping in to run meetings and sign documents and the township manager will run the day to day operations, as usual.

The Mayor’s seat in council chambers will remain empty for time being after a judge ruled Keith Hartman vacated his position, according to a State statute regulating attendance at council meetings.

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“He missed eight consecutive weeks of meetings, which is required by law. He did not do that and automatically he is removed from his seat,“ said Township Manager Stephen Bonanni.

Bonanni says Hartman claims he was threatened by Councilman Dennis Kliener and another union leader this summer and didn’t feel safe coming to meetings.

“Nobody ever threatened Keith Hartman physically. The threats have always been ‘we’re going to campaign against you’ or the anonymous letter which was ‘we will expose you and your affairs around town.’”

Kliener says Hartman started personal attacks about him earlier this year.

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“He spread rumors around town about me having affairs on my wife.”

Councilman Kliener also says Hartman was taking care of a second home during Hurricane Irene and was also at a Cowboys game when he missed two of those meetings.

Township Hartman responded to Eyewitness News’ report with the following statement:

I am out of the area with my children until things settle down. I am not commenting further on the threats. I have turned the information into law enforcement agencies. These bullying tactics are despicable. I maintained my responsibilities as Mayor to the best of my ability while pulling back from public view. I certified that to the court. Some are trying to paint this as me going to Dallas or to my beach home and neglecting my responsibilities. I was not a shut in. I merely avoided public appearances where I may not have been safe. I have 3 young children that are my primary concern.

Reported by Robin Rieger, CBS 3

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