Stephanie Murray resigned as mayor of Middletown Township this afternoon in a hand delivered letter to the Township Clerk. Her resignation from the Township Committee is effective immediately, MMM has learned.
Murray cited her increased job responsibilities in her letter. She became the part time Borough Administrator of West Long Branch last summer and was promoted to full time administrator earlier this year.
Once considered a rising star in Monmouth County political circles, Murray’s prospects for higher office took a hit in 2016 after the Asbury Park Press wrote an inaccurate and incomplete story about her family’s financial difficulties. Never-the-less, Murray was overwhelmingly reelected by Middletown voters last November and was selected to serve as mayor this year by her colleagues on the Township Committee.
Committeeman Tony Fiore, Murray’s running mate three times, expressed his disappointment, understanding and admiration for Murray. “Steph is a great friend and has been a terrific partner on the Township Committee,” Fiore said in a phone interview. “Our friendship will continue, but her unique insights and enthusiasm will be missed on the Township Committee. West Long Branch’s gain is definitely Middletown’s loss.”
“Stephanie Murray is one of the finest public servants in Monmouth County, if not the State, Senator Declan O’Scanlon said. “While I am disappointed to see her leave her service in Middletown, the largest town in my district, I am pleased that she will be continuing to serve the public with distinction in West Long Branch.”
The Township Committee is expected to appoint Deputy Mayor Kevin Settembrino to serve as mayor for the remainder of 2018.
The Middletown Republican County Committee members are now tasked with nominating three people to fill Murray’s seat. The Township Committee will select one of those three people to serve in Murray’s seat until the election results in November are certified.
Middletown is now in the unique position of having the majority of its five person governing body be unelected by the public. Committeemen Tony Perry was appointed to fill the vacancy created by former Committeeman Steve Massell’s appointment to the Monmouth County Tax Board last November. Committeeman Rick Hibell was appointed to fill the vacancy which occurred when Gerry Scharfenberger became a Monmouth County Freeholder in February, replacing Serena DiMaso who was sworn into the State Assembly in January.
Perry, Hibell and Murray’s replacement will face the voters in November which puts partisan control of the Township on the ballot.