NJ commissioner candidate running with Ian Smith faces DWI charge
ABSECON — A candidate for Burlington County Commissioner running alongside fellow Republican candidate Ian Smith in the June primary is accused of driving while under the influence.
The New Jersey Globe reported that Valerie Gallagher, 48, was pulled over shortly before midnight in Atlantic County on Sunday, April 24. The Absecon police reportedly said she had a blood-alcohol level of .21.
Gallagher, a Moorestown real estate agent, had bloodshot eyes, drooping eyelids, and slurred speech the night of her arrest, according to the Globe. She reportedly failed four field sobriety tests.
An officer decided to stop Gallagher's blue BMW station wagon when he noticed the vehicle tilting to its passenger side and making sounds like it had a flat tire, the Globe reported. The cop also reportedly found substantial damage to the vehicle's passenger side.
When asked what she hit, Gallagher reportedly told the officer she could not remember hitting anything with her vehicle.
While Gallagher is running as a Republican, she does not have the endorsement of the Burlington County Republican Committee. Burlington County GOP Executive Director Josh Zoppina said in a statement to New Jersey 101.5 that Gallagher "cannot be trusted" and called for Republican voters to choose her opponent.
"Val Gallagher driving with a 0.21% blood alcohol level put lives in danger," Zoppina said. "Beyond that, her inability to remember who or what she hit that caused extensive damage to her car is disturbing and disqualifying."
Gallagher has reportedly pleaded not guilty to DWI, reckless driving, and operating an unsafe vehicle. Her appearance in Absecon Municipal Court is set for July 11.
Gallagher did not respond to a request for comment from New Jersey 101.5 on Tuesday.
Her reported DWI arrest occurred just one month after Smith was arrested early on the morning of March 27. Cinnaminson police told Smith he failed a field sobriety test in body camera footage.
Smith and Gallagher are running on the same ticket. Their alliance allowed Smith to get the preferred first column position on the ballot for the June 7 primary.
Gallagher is campaigning against fellow Republican Jeff Fortune in the June 7 primary for a single open spot to run in the general election. All five spots on Burlington's Board of County Commissioners are currently held by Democrats.
Smith is running against Bob Healey, who does have the county GOP's endorsement. The winner will get a chance to potentially unseat Congressman Andy Kim, D-NJ.