LACEY TOWNSHIP – Independent Ocean County Freeholder Candidate John Novak, who was first elected as a Republican, had a plane with a banner advertising his insurgent freeholder campaign circle the Lacey GOP’s annual deck party event, held outdoors in Forked River and featuring some of Ocean County’s political heavyweights.
In an unconventional move that was sure to send a message to Ocean County Republican leaders as they gathered in Lacey Township for a political shindig this weekend, Barnegat Mayor John Novak chartered a plane – not unlike those used in the aerial advertising business that you may have seen at the beach this summer – to fly over the Lacey Township Republican Club’s annual deck party event, which was held at the outdoor Captain’s Inn Tiki Bar in the Forked River section of the municipality. Novak, who was elected to the Barnegat Township Committee as a Republican, is running in the 2016 Ocean County Freeholder race as an independent, and picking up support from Republicans that have reservations about the current direction of the county party.
The Lacey event was headed up by the two Republican Lacey Township Committee candidates up for reelection this year, Mayor Steven Kennis and Deputy Mayor Peter Curatolo. Both of them are expected to be easily reelected in November, as no primary challengers or Democratic candidates ever materialized this year, amid a recent armistice between the previously warring Parker and Quinn factions of the Lacey GOP, which resulted in a raucous primary challenge that was in full heat this time last year.
Onlookers near the event were seen looking up in the sky as the plane circled for nearly 30 minutes around the Forked River restaurant, which often hosts political functions for the GOP and others.
“I am a pilot and passionate about aviation,” Novak said in an interview about the Lacey Township flyover. “Pilots view the sky differently than most. Leonardo da Vinci said, For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
When asked about how his strategy may help him win over support from those that saw his plane Saturday, Novak remarked “Aerial advertising is common along the Jersey Shore but has been uncommon in Ocean County political campaigns.”
Despite not having the same network of fundraisers and PACS as the candidates backed by the incumbent establishment do, Novak remains confident that his campaign has a fighting chance, given his recent efforts. “I am an uncommon candidate driven by the support of common folks,” he said. The NOVAK for FREEHOLDER campaign is at a disadvantage organizationally and financially – but this November will be an uncommon election with uncommon results.”
On the aviation front, one of Mr. Novak’s opponents, incumbent Ocean County Freeholder John P. “Jack” Kelly created controversy during his 2008 congressional campaign with his previous “airport analyst” job at the Atlantic City International Airport. That job called for a college degree and aviation experience, while Mr. Kelly had neither.