Inside Ocean County Government

Seaside Park, Toms River

Lack of Political Support Kills “Juan’s Law” Proposal in Toms River

A Toms River councilman had plans to introduce a resolution later in 2017 requiring appointed TRMUA commissioners to actually reside in Toms River, following revelations that the MUA chair and de facto leader of the Toms River Republican Club actually resides in Seaside Park, but the plan has been sidelined due to a lack of political support on the all-Republican town council, GOP sources said.

Well-placed sources within the Toms River political establishment told OCP that Republican Councilman Brian Kubiel had a plan to introduce a resolution that would require politically appointed Toms River MUA commissioners to actually reside within Toms River in 2017 – but the proposal is going nowhere fast.

The only current TRMUA commissioner that would be impacted by such a requirement is none other than Juan Bellu, the chairman of the Toms River Republican Club board of trustees – and as such, we’ve nicknamed the proposal “Juan’s Law.”

While some may assume the club president – Robert DiBiase – holds the most power in Republican club politics, Bellu’s position as the leader of the board of trustees actually makes him the de facto leader of the club due to past bylaw changes that shifted the allocation of power within the club instituted by past TRGOP patriarch Rick Clement.

Bellu, as previously reported, currently resides in Seaside Park and not within the borders of Toms River as required by the Republican Club’s own bylaws.

From left to right: Kubiel, Bellu & Kelaher

Councilman Kubiel’s plan to require Toms River residency for politically appointed MUA commissioners had the support of Mayor Tom Kelaher, who has been known to have been privately frustrated over the matter.

Those close to the mayor have said that in recent years Kelaher has repeatedly expressed his frustration and disapproval regarding Bellu’s lack of residency in private political discussions, but Kelaher has yet to put his money where his mouth is and take action on his concerns, a move that has led some Republicans to question who is really running the show in Toms River.

Other Council Members Not On Board

The issue of Bellu’s residency remains a political hot potato in Toms River. Other members of the township council are reluctant to press the issue of his residency publicly due to the fact that Bellu and business partner Carmen Memoli, who is also an MUA commissioner appointed by the township council, retain considerable influence over the finances of the Toms River’s Republican council candidates through their role as campaign treasurers, as evident from public reports on file with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

Kubiel & Kelaher Silent

We asked Councilman Kubiel whether he had any plans to revisit this issue in 2017 and why he was motivated to consider such a resolution, but he did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment for this story. Mayor Kelaher was also silent in response to media inquiries, and did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The Toms River Republican Club will meet again this Thursday, where leadership for this year will be chosen, among other club business set to take place.

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