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.
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
- Ocean Township (Waretown)
- Ocean Gate
- Pine Beach
- Point Pleasant Beach
- Seaside Heights
- Ship Bottom
- Surf City
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
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.