Election 2017: GOP Primary Races to Watch in Brick, Toms River
This year, there are two contested municipal primary races within Ocean County, both on the Republican Side.
Toms River: Three Way Primary Fight in Ward 1
Republican primaries are not usually exciting in Toms River, where the all-Republican council consists of officially endorsed Republican Club candidates. But 2017’s primary race may buck that trend, with the recent shakeup in Republican Club leadership possibly being an indication of things to come.
Incumbent Councilwoman Maria Maruca is facing not one, but two primary challengers in her 2017 bid to keep her seat representing Ward 1 on the township council.
Citing “inaction and a lack of vision” from the current administration, newcomer Justin Lamb is one of two challengers hoping to unseat Maruca in this year’s primary race. “I can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our community continue to suffer from the current administration’s inaction and lack of vision,” he said in a campaign statement.
Lamb, a Ward 1 resident, is a Lavallette police officer and recently was successful in an Open Public Records Act lawsuit against the Lavallette fire company in which he sought, among other things, records related to that department’s expenditures at the New Jersey State Fireman’s Association convention in Wildwood. Ocean County Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford ruled that the fire company is an “instrumentality” of the borough and that the municipal clerk was the de facto records custodian.
Chris Grimes, an 18-year-old newcomer to Toms River politics is making his debut on the ballot in the first ward. Earlier this year, Grimes was visible as a participant in a recent pro-Donald Trump rally that was held in Seaside Heights. Grimes spoke at the “MAGA March” event alongside GOP governor candidates Joseph Rullo and Steven Rogers, and was critical of the Obama administration’s positions on gun rights.
Brick: Brando vs. Ebert
With one party rule by Democrats led by Mayor John Ducey’s ticket, Brick Township defies the rest of Ocean County’s trend of single party Republican control. Our sources within Brick have reported that the Democrats have even purged a local Republican doctor from the Brick Historical Society and there has been tensions at the Brick Housing Authority as Democrats continue to consolidate their power (more on that in the near future). With no Republicans in elected positions the situation facing the Brick GOP resembles that facing Democrats elsewhere in Ocean County.
The Brick Republican Club’s officially endorsed mayoral candidate, Domenick Brando is citing Brick’s drug problem as an issue he’d like to tackle if elected.
Brando said “we need to realistically tackle and face up to one of the worst drug epidemics in Ocean County” in a Republican Club statement. Brando will “articulate his agenda in the following months,” according to a Brick GOP press release.
Brando’s primary challenger, Martin Ebert, running under the slogan “Make Brick Great Again” calls himself an “independent Republican” mayoral candidate.
“The current Democrat administration is controlled by by the Newark/Camden party bosses,” Ebert declared in a campaign statement. “They call the shots here in town.”
“Conservative Republicans and President Trump supporters need a voice in this town and I intend to be that voice,” he added.