Few Contested Races In Red Ocean County

In 18 out of 24 municipal races this year, incumbent Republicans have been all but handed victory, as no Democrats even filed petitions to get on the ballot in many Ocean County towns.

Why can't Wyatt Earp and Marta Harrison recruit candidates for municipal office?

Why can’t Wyatt Earp and Marta Harrison recruit candidates for municipal office?

If the list of municipal primary candidates released by the Ocean County Clerk’s Office is any indication, one party rule by the powerful Ocean County Republican organization in the county’s municipalities isn’t facing much of a challenge from the likes of the Ocean County Democrats this year, far from the first time this has happened.





While Ocean County has been solidly “red” since before the days of Ocean County GOP Boss George Gilmore’s grandfather, J. Stanley Tunney (as in the Route 37 bridge Tunney), as of April there are 71,344 registered Dems in the county, compared to 108,326 Republicans. Combined with the fact that voters not affiliated with either party make up a sizable chunk of the county’s residents, one would think there would be more people running for local office. But that’s not the case.

No Democrats filed to get on the ballot for the June 7th, 2016 primary election in these towns:

  • Barnegat Light
  • Bay Head
  • Beachwood
  • Eagleswood
  • Lacey
  • Lakehurst
  • Lavalette
  • Mantoloking
  • Ocean Township (Waretown)
  • Ocean Gate
  • Pine Beach
  • Plumsted
  • Point Pleasant Beach
  • Seaside Heights
  • Ship Bottom
  • Surf City
  • Tuckerton

Democrats Have Full Slates In Just 6 Local Races

In Barnegat, the local Democratic organization has tapped Armando Quiroz and Craig Kleinfeld, who will face Republicans Albert Bille and Alfonso Cirulli respectively. With residents livid over the 7.2 cent tax increase in the municipal budget, Barnegat is a town to watch. Barnegat Democrats have a “meet and greet” planned for next week as well, where candidates will lay out their positions.

In Lakewood, Democrat Mordecai Gross is challenging incumbent Republican Albert Akerman.

Little Egg Harbor will see Democrat Mark Hansen challenge incumbent Republican Barbara Jo Crea.

In Point Pleasant, incumbent GOP councilmen Joseph Furmato and Michael Thulen will face Democrats Peter Hagemeyer and Steven McLaughlin.

Toms River will see appointed GOP councilman Kevin Geoghegan (whose last name has been misspelled and butchered in almost every way imaginable) face Democrat Daniel Rodrick.

South Toms River has two Democratic challengers, Gregory Handshy and Ernest Reevey. They will be facing Republicans William Gleason and Tanya Mosley.

Seaside Park saw just one Democrat file, Nancy Koury. Koury does not have a running mate and will face Republicans Faith Liguori and Ray Amabile.

One Party Rule = One Party Patronage Monopoly

Jack Kelly, Ocean County Freeholder and serial nepotist. Photo by Daniel - - Brick ShoreBeat

Jack Kelly, Ocean County Freeholder and serial nepotist. Photo by Daniel – – Brick ShoreBeat

Whether or not you consider yourself a member of either party, it doesn’t take a PhD to know that an eagle needs two wings to fly – left and right. The lack of any meaningful opposition to the entrenched political establishment has given the green light for pricey pay-to-play contracts, useless $1 million building studies, and enabled patronage champions like Freeholder Director (and worst public officials list finalist) John P. “Jack” Kelly to do what they do best – pilfer the public coffers with useless political positions.

Freeholder Kelly’s exploits have seen him at various government jobs during his tenure (too many to list in this article) on the freeholder board, most recently being nominated to a cushy position to the state parole board. Senator Ray Lesniak later put the brakes on that.

Because a Democrat (or independent) has not been elected to the freeholder board for decades, nobody has the vote to say “enough is enough.” The fox continues to guard the henhouse, and Kelly’s cohort, newly appointed Freeholder Virginia “Ginny” Haines – who took many a taxpayer-funded vacation while employed as the New Jersey Lottery Director under Governor Whitman, or presided over the Toms River / Dover Township MUA budget shortfall – will continue to do more of the same.

When our elected officials are accountable to the political bosses of one party through non competitive elections and gerrymandering, rather than the people, the taxpayers lose.

If our government is to be reformed either at a local or a county level, then it is clear that one party rule must end. Despite the lack of organized opposition, independent candidates can still file, and nothing is stopping Democrats in these towns from writing in candidates.

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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14 Responses

  1. llewellynh says:

    And with a one party system, there are absolutely NO checks and balances. Question is, is this what people in OC really want?

    • FJLinNJ says:

      It will be up to the voters at the County level…the Congressional Primary will be dominated by BurlCo turnout. I need as many D voters as possible aware that they have an option this primary season…one not beholden to the Gilmore machine.


  2. guest says:

    No surprise here. You mean no one is running against the Republicans in Ocean County? I see you mention Ginny Haines the newly-anointed Freeholder , Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority long time now Ex commissioner and NJ Lottery retiree , you can’t swing a stick at the sewerage Authority without hitting a friend or family member of the Toms River Council or Mayors group. . The whole thing is a joke, maybe when Mr. Gogahoiggen beats the No Name Dem, that is running against him, he will able to have some of his family and friends get jobs at the Toms River mua or Town Hall which seems to be the ultimate dumping points for hires of the
    well-connected, the council people and the mayor of Toms River. Not sure why mr. Earp can’t put real candidates out there, maybe he is more connected to mr. Gilmore than we all think? Gee what a surprise! I think I’m going to join the local Republican organization in Toms River, maybe if I put out a sign, they
    Will give me $100,000 a year job we’re at the recreation department, the golf course, or maybe the DMV?

  3. Standard worker says:

    Do we voters ever get a chance to elect these, so called ” appointed” Council and or Freeholders?

  4. USAFWX says:

    As a side note, in Lacey there really is two parties, both being Republican. The rift in Lacey should have opened the door for a Democrat or third party candidate to swoop in, but because of the weakness of the Democratic Party in town, it hasn’t. that being said, there really isn’t much difference at the local level between the two parties.

    • Teddy says:

      What makes me really believe that the Democratic chair is in bed with the Republican chair, I do agree however that on the local level it doesn’t really matter, it’s really only about jobs for friends ,family, their lawyer friends ,attorney friends, engineer buddies ,Business Associates and so…that’s really all they are worried about on the local level.

  5. kickyourace says:

    Fred LaVergne for Congress
    Tracy Caprioni and Scott Neuman for Freeholder

  6. llewellynh says:

    Shame on the democrats. Maybe we need an Independent Ocean County Good Government Party.

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