FORKED RIVER – It’s been a rough few months for the Lacey Township Republican organization. Bickering between factions of the municipality’s GOP in 2015 led to a contentious primary fight between two sides of the party this time last year, with one side loyal to former mayor John C. Parker, and another faction loyal to local real estate developer Gary Quinn, who has ambitions at moving up to the office of Ocean County Freeholder, should current Freeholder Director John P. “Jack” Kelly be successfully appointed to a patronage, pension-padding gig with a six-figure salary on the State Parole Board – creating a vacancy for Quinn.
Lacey’s Republicans will vote Tuesday night for which candidates to endorse to run in the primary election for township committee, potentially opening the door for yet another primary fight.
In the months following last year’s primary fight, the animosity between the two sides has apparently cooled down (at least for the general election). But party insiders have speculated that the peace won’t last.
The flashpoint of 2015’s split was the Republican Club’s endorsement vote. Mr. Quinn, along with running mate Tim McDonald survived 2015’s hysterics, beating out challengers Tom Crowell and Eric Schubiger in a bitter, nasty race. The primary was categorized by charged rhetoric, along with accusations that GOP Municipal Chair Jack Nosti (known for his heavy-handed tactics), aided by relative and school board member David Bidwell was packing the club with over 45 new members just to stack the endorsement vote in favor of candidates given Boss Parker’s seal of approval.
During the race, Parker not only wrote, but paid to have circulated anonymous mailers sent to Republican primary voters. The first Parker hit piece was distributed at a campaign event held at a restaurant in Forked River and ripped primary candidate James Le Tellier, a former Lacey Police Lieutenant.
There was no love lost between Le Tellier and Parker, as when employed by the town Le Tellier ended up suing the town and then-Mayor Parker in federal civil rights lawsuit, in which a jury found Parker knowingly violated Le Tellier’s rights.
Despite writing the book on nepotism himself, Parker’s second letter attacked Quinn’s alleged nepotism, claiming that Quinn placed multiple unqualified relatives on the government payroll in local and county positions. See the letter: Page 1 Page 2.
Ocean County Politics has learned that Mr. Parker has had numerous health complications, including injuries suffered after getting bitten by his dog (the dog wanted some of Parker’s meal, but he reportedly didn’t want to share), which required him to get stitches, among facing additional health problems in the wake of the death of his wife Ruth. Despite all of this, Boss
Hogg Parker has not, and will not retire from politics for the foreseeable future.
Make no mistake about it: should there be a primary fight, Mr. Parker’s fingerprints will be all over it.
This time around, Republican Mayor Steven Kennis along with running mate Peter Curatolo will be stand for reelection, with Tuesday night’s club endorsement vote to be the acid test of the newfound detente between the two factions. Kennis has been described as somewhat of a a “fence sitter” between the two factions, maintaining marginally better relations with the Parker faction than other Quinn-affiliated politicos, something that has been seen as insurance against a potential primary fight.
In order to “keep the peace,” concessions have been made by the Quinn camp to Parker, such as appointing Mr. Parker as the Township Historian, a largely ceremonial title, in addition to Quinn reneging on a plan to kick coup architect Jack Nosti along with right hand man Paul Denicola (Denicola was previously in hot water for “accidentally” sending a pornographic email to Republican club members) off of their appointed positions on the Lacey MUA board.
However, the vote to re-appoint Parker Lieutenant Paul Denicola to the board of the Lacey MUA may have revealed some political tensions within House Quinn. Quinn, being the political animal that he is, astutely abstained from voting on the Denicola’s reappointment, but instead directed Tim McDonald to vote in favor of the re-appointment, which he did. Kennis and Curatolo also fell in line and voted yes.
Is Nick Juliano The Only Republican Capable Of Standing Up To Boss Parker?
Just one committeeman voted against reappointing Denicola, Nick Juliano. Juliano’s vote peeved some of his colleagues, who balked that he may face “fire and brimstone” when it comes time for him to run for reelection.
Will we see another contentious primary challenge in Lacey? Or will things be different for the township’s Republicans 2016?
We’ll know for sure by Tuesday. Follow OCP for the inside story.