Ocean County Politics

Inside Ocean County Government

Election 2017, Opinion, Toms River

Lamb: Toms River GOP Establishment has Failed Ward 1 Voters

TO THE EDITOR: Over the past 13 years, the voters and taxpayers of Toms River have endured tax increases at the hands of a Township Council chosen not by the voting majority, but appointed by “party leadership.”

My opponent in this race was hand-picked for the council as a replacement in 2004, and has voted to raise taxes year after year. She has run for reelection, unopposed, every four years since that appointment, and her inexperience in a real election helps explain her remarkable silence during this entire campaign. Finally, after 13 long years, taxpayers have the opportunity to determine their own representative among several candidates – and to show that they’re tired of the complacent GOP establishment.

Residents have been forced to pay unreasonably high taxes for too long now, and our so-called representatives have failed to address these inequities. In March, the Township Council announced a three percent tax hike – amounting to nearly $2.2 million – for this year’s budget. I immediately blasted the Township Council’s poor fiscal management in Ward 1, and suddenly, the reactionary members reversed course and postured for a zero percent tax increase. This was not a change of heart or the result of heroic efforts by your representatives – it was an attempt to save face after a poorly constructed initial proposal.

Of course, this so-called victory proved immediately to be hypocrisy when they proposed the Board of Fire Commissioners’ $14 million downtown firehouse – an obvious, sneaky backdoor tax increase. While I openly and publicly opposed the rough plans to build an excessively lavish fire castle, my opponent sat silent over the looming tax implications – even when challenged by residents at a council meeting. Taxpayers were left in the dark about the impending vote, with a lack of proper notice, polling places left without visible signage, and voting machines hidden behind firetrucks. Despite torrential rain on voting day, residents responded in a record turnout to shoot down the unreasonable expenditure in an extremely lopsided vote.

This election marks the first opportunity in more than a decade for Toms River voters to have their voices heard. Again, my opponent took office in 2004 not after winning an election, but by being appointed as a replacement. Just last year, Ward 2 brought in a similar, hand-picked replacement, and voters are now stuck with that “choice.” As a lifelong Republican, I find this practice positively un-American. Admittedly, much of the blame for taxpayers’ lack of influence on the council lies with us – the voters who have failed to show up on that first Tuesday in June. Historically, less than 20 percent of registered Republicans have voted in their party’s primary elections. Our so-called representatives at the Township Council have been in cruise control for too long, running as unopposed incumbents and maintaining their cushy status quo. The only real challenge for the Republican establishment at election time has been planning a victory party up in their ivory tower.

This June 6, we have a chance to embark on a new path, and to blaze a trail of real change in Toms River. We have the opportunity to break free from that status quo, and to make our voices heard – to discuss the real issues and to address them as a community. I believe my campaign has shown that I am determined to put an end to wasteful spending, to bring the taxpayers’ concerns to the forefront, and to help Toms River and its residents in any way that I can. It’s time for a change, and on June 6, we can take the first step toward a better Toms River.

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