TOMS RIVER – Republican Club President Robert DiBiase joined with school board member Christopher Raimann in expressing outrage at a Republican primary challenger over the outcome of a Saturday referendum where voters rejected a proposed $14m firehouse plan, in an email sent to Republican Club members and obtained from a GOP source Monday.
A memo sent by a Toms River school board member and endorsed by township Republican Club President Robert DiBiase appears to place significant blame on a Ward 1 GOP primary challenger for this weekend’s defeat of a controversial fire district referendum in Toms River.
Toms River fire commissioners along with Fire District Administrator Brian Kubiel, who is also a Republican councilman, proposed a new plan to consolidate two Toms River fire companies under the roof of a brand new, 33,000 square foot, 3-story firehouse to be built on a municipal parking lot.
In a Saturday special election, District 1’s voters overwhelmingly voted to reject the proposal in a 535 – 306 vote.
Both of the Ward 1 Republican primary challengers, Chris Grimes and Justin Lamb, made public statements opposing the $14 million plan leading up to the special election. Lamb made an effort to aggressively campaign against the referendum and call voters to encourage them to vote against the multi-million dollar proposal.
Unlike her campaign surrogates, Councilwoman Maria Maruca’s campaign Facebook page was silent about the Saturday referendum or its outcome.
Raimann: Don’t Take Lamb Lightly
In the memo, Raimainn, a member of the Toms River Board of Education’s Republican minority, cautioned that Ward 1 Republican primary candidate Justin Lamb is not to be taken lightly by Toms River’s Republican establishment following the township council primary challenger’s advocacy of the firehouse referendum’s defeat.
“As most of you are [a]ware the vote for a new and much needed fire house was defeated due to misinformation (lies) being put out in the news and on social media,” Raimann, a supporter of incumbent Toms River Councilwoman Maria Maruca wrote.
The school board member placed blame with Lamb for the referendum’s defeat.
“Moving forward, no one should take Mr. Lamb lightly and his stretching of the truth is hurting the township and our fire fighters [sic],” Raimann wrote in an email communication that was forwarded by DiBiase to Republican Club members.
Raimann took issue with Lamb’s vocal criticism of the financial details of the failed $14 million referendum.
“Mr. Lamb who is running for Ward 1 put out false information which led people, specifically on the island to believe a huge tax increase was coming. In truth the annual tax bill would be only 35 per year,” Raimann, an employee of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department claimed.
Lamb’s criticism of the firehouse plan centered on, among other things, the reliance by proponents on numbers based on the “average” cost to Fire District 1 taxpayers for the proposal. Lamb claimed that many homes in Ward 1 fall above that figure, resulting in a “disproportionate tax impact.”
The primary challenger previously decried the proposal as “astronomical” in an article written on his campaign Facebook page.
The race has already become contentious, with Republican Club President Robert DiBiase hurling accusations about Lamb’s residency due to his voting history in a statement that was exclusively provided to the Asbury Park Press. Last week, the other Republican primary challenger, Chris Grimes, took aim at DiBiase after he allegedly pushed him not to run.
“This memo is one of many I have received and agree with since the Fire House vote,” DiBiase wrote of Raimann’s statement in an email sent to Republican Club members. “We will continue to expose them as the anarchists they are!”
For his part, Lamb brushed off the “anarchist” label in a statement to OCP Monday.
“While we could only speculate over the TR GOP’s silence over this backdoor tax increase prior to the Saturday’s vote, this latest revelation from this surrogate shows they have been in full support of a huge tax increase all along,” the council candidate said of DiBiase’s email.
“As a volunteer fireman myself, I fully support the firemen of Toms River,” Lamb added. “However, I will always keep my promise to the taxpayers to bring real transparency and change to Toms River.”