Asbury Park — An overflow crowd of Asbury Park residents attended the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting in the city last evening to rally the county’s governing body to save the north end beachfront property known as Bradley Cove.
iStar Financial, the city’s master developer, owns the development rights to the site and has a proposal to build 15 town homes on the property. The Asbury Park Council passed a resolution earlier this month to apply for Green Acres funding to preserve the property.
The freeholders were sympathetic to the public outcry to prevent the development, but made it clear that the ball is in Asbury Park’s court. Prior Asbury Park administrations sold the development rights to the property and approved a tax abatement to support the development. Community members are now trying to undue that deal, and seem be hoping that Freeholder Board has the power to make that happen.
Hornik, D’Amico and Mallet will team up to target the “safe” Republican district
Hazlet-April 1 Monmouth County Democrats spent the holiday weekend scrambling to collect petition signatures for a new slate of candidates for State Senate and General Assembly in the 13th Legislative District, according to a Democrat who does not want to be known for speaking to a Republican blogger. Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik will be the Senate candidate. Former freeholders John D’Amico and Amy Mallet will be the Assembly candidates.
Petitions are due in Trenton today.
Barbara Buono, the presumed Democratic nominee for governor, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver each called the new candidates to promise amble funds to wage the general election race, even if the incumbents prevail in the GOP primary.
Chairman Vin Gopal believes the 13th district will be in play should the expected Bayshore Tea Party Group backed slate led by former congressional candidate Leigh-Ann Bellew for Senate win the Republican primary against incumbent Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assembly members Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon. The BTPG will announce the rest of their slate, as well as the freeholder and sheriff candidate, this afternoon after their petitions are filed.
“The Tea Party has beat the Monmouth Republican line every time they’ve tried,” said the source, “Anna Little beat the GOP organization twice and David Corsi did it in 2010. We’re betting they will do it again. In a race where the Republican candidates are running an anti-abortion, pro-gun campaign, we believe the district will vote for proven vote getters like Mayor Hornik, Judge D’Amico and Freeholder Mallet.”
The candidates nominated at the Monmouth Democratic Convention in February, Rutgers Professor Sean Dunne for Senate, and Assembly candidates Matthew Morehead, a dog groomer and Allison Friedman, a public defender, have agreed to resign their candidacies and not file their petitions.
“Having a strong legislative team will help Barbara Buono. There is no way Governor Christie carries Monmouth County by the margins he did in 2009 if he has Tea Party running mates in the 13th. We’ll be forcing Christie to spend time and money in Monmouth he would not have had to with Kyrillos, Handlin and O’Scanlon on his ticket.”
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal thinks President Barack Obama will do better in Monmouth County than he did four years ago.
Speaking to a Star Ledger reporter in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention, Gopal said:
“I think President Obama has a great shot to win Monmouth County this year,” said Gopal. “He came very close four years ago. The Republicans are hoping that people have amnesia and don’t remember the eight years under George W. Bush.”
Gopal knows where his votes are:
“We want to get our votes out for the President in Democratic constituencies like Long Branch, Neptune and Asbury Park to help make sure he gets four more years.”
In 2008, Obama lost Monmouth County to John McCain by only 12,000, due to an extraordinarily high Democratic turnout in Long Branch, Neptune and Asbury Park. Obama’s coattails helped sweep Amy Mallet to victory over John Curley for freeholder, giving the Democratic Party control of the Freeholder Board for the first time in twenty years.
Burry on Mallet: “She’s a fraud, she a fraud, a fraud, fraud, fraud!”
Former Freeholder Amy Mallett, a Democrat, laid the blame for the Brookdale Community College scandal that lead to former college president Peter Burnham pleading to guilty to theft by deception and official misconduct earlier this week at the feet of the Monmouth GOP’s “cozy” relationship, “Club Monmouth” with the leadership of college.
In an OpEd piece published in The Asbury Park Press, Mallet took aim at Republican Freeholder Lillian Burry and her campaign treasurer, John Cantolupo who was the Brookdale Board of Trustees’ lawyer at the time Burnham’s lavish contract and spending irregularities were uncovered.
Former Monmouth Democratic Chairman Victor Scudiery
Former Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Victor Scudiery told MMM that he thinks his party’s nominees for freeholder and county surrogate should resign their candidacies and let the new Chairman, Vin Gopal, and the Democratic County Committee select new candidates.
The freeholder candidates, former Hazlet Mayor Kevin Lavan and former State Trooper William Shea, along with surrogate nominee Michael Steinhorn, all supported Gopal’s opponent, Marlboro Council President Frank LaRocca, in last month’s Chairman’s race. Gopal won the chairmanship with over 70% of the vote, over 80% excluding Marlboro.
“I don’t know why they did that (took a position in the Chairman’s race),” said Scudiery, “LaRocca must have promised them something. I don’t see how the rank and file supports them now.”
The Monmouth County Democrats are holding their nominating convention on Thursday, March 22 at the Bayshore Senior Center, 6:30 PM.
Michael Steinhorn of Rumson is the only candidate who has filed to run for County Clerk. He is expected to be nominated to run against Republican incumbent M.Claire French. Steinhorn was the nominee for County Surrogate last year.
Former State Trooper Bill Shea, a candidate last year, and former Hazlet Mayor Kevin Lavan, a candidate for Assembly last year from the 13th district , will be freeholder candidates.
There are two freeholder seats up this year; a full term that is being defended by incumbent Republican Freeholder Director John Curley and an unexpired term that will be defended by Freeholder Serena DiMaso. DiMaso was elected by the Monmouth Republican Committee to fill the vacancy created by Rob Clifton’s election to the State Assembly.
The Democrats have yet to determine which seats Shea and Lavan will challenge.
Former Freeholder Amy Mallet has not ruled out re-seeking the office that she lost last November. Asked repeatedly by MMM if she was going to make an run for freeholder either at the convention or in the primary, Mallet said, “no, not at this time,” and “I am not running as of now.” Asked to give a definitive answer, she declined.
Two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the nomination to take on Congressman Chris Smith in the 4th congressional district. Former Monmouth County Surrogate Patricia Bennett, now an elder law attorney in Red Bank and Spring Lake businessman Brian Froelich will compete for the Democratic endorsement on Thrusday night.
Froelich has a website and says he’s filed with the FEC to be a candidate. He would not rule out a primary challenge should he lose to Bennett on Thursday, saying, “I intend to win at the convention and have not thought beyond that.”
A strong argument could be made that the path to becoming a Monmouth County Freeholder goes through Red Bank realtor Jim Giannell’s office.
Since 2005 when he backed Colts Neck Mayor Lillian Burry, Giannell has picked every non-incumbent Freeholder nominee except two. One exception was Marlboro Councilman Jeff Cantor who replaced Freeholder Anna Little, a Giannell pick, on the ticket in 2007. Cantor lost a close election to Democrat John D’Amico and then left the Republican party for Jon Hornick’s Democratic organization in Marlboro. The other exception is John Curley. Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso in 2008. Curley narrowly lost to Amy Mallet in the Obama landslide. In 2009 Giannell backed Kim Spatola, a former Atlantic Highlands councilwoman over Curley. Curley prevailed at Joe Oxley’s first candidate selection screening and went on to defeat Sean Byrnes of Middletown in the 2009 Christie landslide in Monmouth.
With the election of Gary Rich earlier this month, 3.5, counting Curley, of five Freeholders owe their offices to Jim Giannell. If the former Red Bank municipal chairman’s pick in the current race to replace Assemblyman-elect Rob Clifton, Howell Mayor Bob Walsh, is elected on January 14, Giannell will have picked all five members of the board.
While the Freeholders may owe their careers to Giannell, there is little, if any, evidence that he is a boss, in the classic New Jersey sense of the word. Once they take office, the Freeholders go their own way. Burry is supporting Anne Marie Conte over Walsh in the current race. Curley and Tom Arnone are staying out of the race for now.
Here is a list of Giannell’s picks for non-incumbent Freeholders since 2005:
2005: Lillian Burry. Burry ran with incumbent Bill Barham. Barham was elected at a Republican convention earlier in 2005 to replace long time Freeholder Director Harry Larrison. Even in the wake of the Operation Bid Rig scandal which tarnished the Republican brand, Barham and Burry defeated Democrats Barbara McMorrow and Rebecca Aaronson and Independent Brian Unger. The Republican victory was in large measure do to the Asbury Park Press’s call for voters to bullet vote for Unger. Back then the APP’s endorsement still had influence. Unger garnered over 18,000 votes. Burry’s margin of victory over McMorrow was only 1,792 votes.
2006: Anna Little and Andrew Lucas. Little was elected, by one vote, over Howell Mayor Joe DiBella at a convention to replace Amy Handlin who had been elected to the Assembly. Giannell managed Little’s campaign and her floor fight at the convention. A month later at a contentious multiple ballot nominating convention, Giannell and candidate Terrence Wall threw their support to Lucas in an anti-establishment move against DiBella and then Chairman Fred Neimann. Little went on to win the rest of Handlin’s unexpired term in the general election. Lucas lost to Barbara McMorrow.
2007: Giannell did not have a candidate. Little, his successful pick in 2006, spent a contentious year battling with Chairman Puharic and Freeholder Director Barham. Little declined to seek the nomination rather than submit to Puharic’s rules for screening and the convention. Cantor was selected to join incumbent Rob Clifton on the ticket. Clifton won. Cantor lost to Democrat John D’Amico.
2008: John Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso who had the backing of Chairman Adam Puharic. Burry was Curley’s running mate. In a photo finish election dominated by Obamamania, Burry prevailed and Curley lost to Amy Mallet on the count of provisional ballots. Democrats took control of the Freeholder Board for the first time in 20 years.
2009: Giannell backed Chairman Joe Oxley in supporting Atlantic Highlands former Councilwoman Kim Spatola over Curley. McMorrow was up for reelection and was considered a lock to be reelected. Nominating a woman, given the pro woman gender gap demonstrated by Burry and Mallet’s 2008 victories was considered the only hope of defeating McMorrow. Just before the nominating meetings for both parties, McMorrow announced she would not seek another term. Curley won a roll call vote at Oxley’s first screening selection. The Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to replace McMorrow, settling on Byrnes from Middletown over Mike Beson of Neptune Township. Curley defeated Byrnes and Republicans won back control of the Board.
2010: Giannell’s pick, Tom Arnone, narrowly defeated former Middltown Committeeman Tom Wilkens and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich. Arnone and incumbent Rob Clifton went on to defeat D’Amico and Spring Lake Councilwoman Janice Venables.
2011: Giannell backed Rich over Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, who had Burry’s support, Walsh, and Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry. Rich won the nomination with 25 votes in the screening committee. Lucas has 23 votes and Newberry 22. Walsh withdrew before the polling. Rich and incumbent Burry went on the defeat Mallet and newcomer William Shea earlier this month.
2012? Monmouth County Republicans have not had a nominating convention of all county committee members since 2008. It remains to be seen if Giannell can pull off another close race. Don’t bet the house against Bob Walsh.
Freeholder John Curley will be elected Director of the Board by his colleagues when the Monmouth County Board of Freeholder reorganizes in January, MMM has learned. Freeholder Tom Arone will be elected Deputy Director.
Curley said he will use the opportunity to continue his work to reduce the size and cost of county government. He said he was concerned about the amount of surplus used to hold the line on property taxes in the current fiscal year. He sees savings coming from using more part time employees and outsourcing government functions where possible. Curley said he hopes the county is able to sell the nursing homes it owns.
Arone sees the continued expansion of shared services as an opportunity to reduce costs for municipal governments while enhancing revenue for the county.
Freeholder Lillian Burry who has served two terms as director and broke the glass ceiling when she become the first female director said Curley would do a good job in the post. Burry was elected to her third term on the Freeholder Board earlier this month. She said her focus will be on the projects she has been working on, notably, the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth and the park system.
Curley, Arone and Burry are each taking a strong interest in the race to fill Assemblyman-elect Rob Clifton’s seat on the board. The new Freeholder will be running with Curley in the 2012 general election and with Arone and Sheriff Shaun Golden in the 2013 election, assuming a 2012 victory.
Neither Curley or Arnone expressed a preference for any of the announced candidates, noting that the field may not be set.
Burry recruited Wall Township Mayor Anne Marie Conte into the race and is supporting her for the post.
Curley said he expected a strong challenge from the Monmouth County Democrats in 2012, mentioning Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty and Freeholder Amy Mallet, who lost her reelection bid earlier this month, as possible challengers.
The controversy over Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham’s compensation and spending habits has given Democratic Freeholder Amy Mallet an issue to run on in her reelection bid. Mallet has picked up the ball and run with it.
The Brookdale issue should be a positive for Republicans. Republican Freeholder John Curley first identified and raised the issue which led to Burnham’s suspension last week. But while Mallet has gotten out front with the issue by calling for college chairman Howard Birdsall’s resignation and calling for term limits for Brookdale trustees, Republican Freeholder Lillian Burry, who is also up for reelection this year, has been far less aggressive.
Mallet has made headlines, here, here and here calling for Birdsall’s resignation and greater oversight of the Brookdale board, while Burry has been supportive of the board.
Burry told the Asbury Park Press, “At this point they (the Brookdale trustees) need our support,” Burry said, adding that the board of trustees moved swiftly to address the situation.
Seriously Lillian? They should have moved swiftly. But how long has this been going on? Where else in county government is excessive spending going on? The Library? The Park System? Nursing homes? The vocational school system?
The Brookdale trustees should be supported in this difficult time….by their friends and families….not by a Freeholder who is charged by the taxpayers with overseeing government operations and making sure our dollars are spent prudently.
Burry needs to decide who she is; friend or Freeholder. If she’s a friend, she needs to get out of the way and let someone else take her spot on the GOP ticket this year. If she is a Freeholder, she needs to step up her game. Over the last couple of weeks Burry gave Mallet’s career new life and Mallet is making the most of it.
Prior to the Brookdale scandal, few political observers gave Mallet much of a chance at reelection. Now she is in the game. This could lead to stronger Democrats stepping up to run for county and legislative office. It could make it easier for the Democrats to raise money. It could make what was looking to be a boring Republican rout this year become a competive election season.
Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry has sent a letter to County Committee members seeking their support for the GOP nomination to run as Freeholder Lillian Burry’s running mate this fall.
A full size copy of Newberry’s letter can be found here.
Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich are also expected to compete for the nomination. Former Middletown Committeeman Tom Wilkens, who narrowly lost the nomination to now Freeholder Tom Arnone last year, will not be a candidate this year.
The Monmouth GOP’s Annual Lincoln Day Dinner is the traditional kickoff for candidates seeking county and legislative office. With Republican incumbents seeking reelection for the legislature, surrogate, and Burry seeking a third term as freeholder, the nomination for Democratic Freeholder Amy Mallet’s seat is the only race that is expected to be competitive in the screening process.
The Lincoln Day Dinner is this Sunday evening at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands. For information on reserving your seat, download the reservation form here.