A simmering feud within the Atlantic Highlands GOP boiled over into the public eye yesterday afternoon during the Borough’s reorganization meeting as three of the five Republican elected officials split with two of their newly reelected colleagues to elect a Democrat up for reelection this year as Council President.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno who was on hand to swear in veteran Councilmen Jack Archibald and Peter Doyle to their new terms was not pleased by the drama. “You’re killing me,” Guadagno said to Mayor Fred Rast, a Republican who supported the unorthodox move, according to a prominent county Republican who was present.
Republican Councilman Lou Fligor nominated Democrat Roy Dellosso to be Council President. Jacob “Jake” Hoffman, also a Republican, joined Fligor, Dellossa, and Democrat Robert Sutton in electing Dellosso to the largely ceremonial post. Archibald and Doyle voted no.
While the ceremony of reorganization and the Lt.Governor’s presence shed light on the GOP rift, it really nothing new. Archibald and Doyle frequently vote together as a functional minority on the council, with Democrats Dellosso and Sutton often siding with Rast, Fligor and Hoffman on policy decisions affecting the Borough.
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal has not yet issued a press release touting Dellosso’s election to the council presidency as a victory.
In the background of the GOP rift in Atlantic Highlands is the jockeying to replace Rast and the Republican nominee for mayor. Completing his second term this year, Rast has announced that he is keeping is first term promise to term limit himself out of office. He has said he will not seek a third term this November. All four Republican councilmen have expressed interest in running for mayor.