Ocean Township Mayor Christopher Siciliano questioned the integrity of Councilman Rob Acerra over the placement of lawn signs in a video posted on facebook on Saturday.
When a 22 year year old constituent called Siciliano “Mayor Hypocrite” for talking about integrity, he was challenged to meet up like a real man and discuss it behind headquarters.
Jason Gindi, 23 of the Oakhurst section of the Township, told MMM that he thinks Siciliano is a hypocrite… ironically because of where some of they mayor’s lawn signs are placed….on the property of a potential developer.
“He’s a lot of talk. He talks about how he’s anti-development , but he’s not,” Gindi said of the mayor in a phone interview. “The owner of the potential development is a big supporter with Siciliano team lawn signs all over his property. I don’t think he would be a supporter if the mayor didn’t support his development.”
Siciliano told MMM that the threatening post was made by a campaign volunteer, not him, and has since been taken down. He also said he was unaware that his signs were on the developer’s property and that he would have them removed. “We could have put them on Route 35 and Deal Road,” the mayor said, “but I don’t think its appropriate given the application. We have 750 signs out there, I don’t know where they all are.”
Siciliano said he doesn’t intend to slam Acerra but defended questioning his integrity over signs. “He knows the rules, he’s run for office several times before,” Siciliano said of Acerra. “It’s the little things. Rob is like the guy who goes to the 15 item checkout line with 18 items.”
The non-partisan municipal election in Ocean Township is on May 14. The entire five seat governing body is on the ballot. There are nine candidates for the five seats on the Township Committee.
Siciliano is bracketed with incumbent council members Donna Schepiga and John Napolitani, Sr., as well Dr. Margie Donlan, a Democrat Freeholder candidate in 2017, and Dr. David Fisher, a local chiropractor and Board of Education member.
Incumbent Richard Long is not seeking reelection. Acerra is seeking a second term on the committee. He was kicked off Siciliano’s team and is bracketed on the ballot with Victor Ashkennazi, a 30 year resident of the Township who is a small business owner, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 12, according to the Ocean First campaign facebook page.
Raymond Pogwist is running independently under the Keep Ocean Green banner and Jacqui Wenzel is running on her own with the slogan Preservation vs Contamination.
While there are nine candidates seeking five seats, the tone of the campaign as it enters the final two weeks seems to be a feud between Siciliano and Acerra.
Acerra is positioning himself, and Ashkenazi, as the answer to over development in the community. He says that Siciliano removed him from the incumbent ticket at the behest of Senator Vin Gopal as retribution for running for Assembly against Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey in 2017.
Siciliano did not deny that Gopal wanted Acerra off the ticket, but he says that is not the reason he removed the councilman from his team.
“Rob is a nudge,” Siciliano said of his former running mate, “He went against me too many times and grandstanded. I decided it was time for new blood.”
Siciliano acknowledged that Acerra’s Assembly run played a role is removing him from the incumbent team. “Rob’s not committed to Ocean Township,” he said. “He ran for higher office before completing his first term. Past legislators from Ocean, like Joe Palaia and Dan Jacobson, completed their terms before running for the legislature. I want committed people on my team.”
Palaia served on Ocean Township’s governing body from 1967 through 1979, serving as Mayor from 1971 through 1979. He was a Monmouth County Freeholder from 1979-1981 and elected to the Assembly in 1981 where he served until 1989 when he was elected to the State Senate representing the 11th district.
Jacobson, now the publisher of the triCityNews and the Asbury Park Sun, served on the Ocean Council from 1987 through 1991. He was elected to the Assembly in 1989 and held both offices for 18 months, January 1990 through July 1, 1991 when his term on the council expired.
Dual office holding became illegal in New Jersey during Governor Chris Christie’s first term.