Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden has picked up the endorsements of the elected officials from a third large municipality in his quest to replace John O. Bennett III as the Chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
Mayor Clint Hoffman, Deputy Mayor George Newberry and Township Committee Members Ann Marie Conte, Jeff Foster and Todd Luttman, the entire governing body of Wall Township, signed a letter on Wall Township Republican Organization letterhead and addressed to Monmouth County Republicans today, strongly endorsing Golden for Chairman. Their letter can be found here.
The Wall governing body joins the elected officials of Middletown and Howell in supporting Golden.
All five members of the Middletown Township Committee have announced that they are backing Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden in his bid to replace John O. Bennett III as Chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
Front, Mayor Stephanie Murray and Deputy Mayor Kevin Settembrino. Rear, Committeemen Tony Fiore, Gerry Scharfenberger and Steve Massell. Photo via MiddletownNJ.org
Mayor Stephanie Murray, Deputy Mayor Kevin Settembrino, and Committee Members Gerry Scharfenberger, Stephen Massell and Tony Fiore, all Republicans, issued a statement through Fiore .
“Sheriff Golden will bring a new energy to our Party and make us even stronger in delivering the best and most efficient county and municipal governments in New Jersey to the people of Monmouth County.
“Shaun has demonstrated a commitment to excellence and innovation while improving the performance of the Sheriff’s Office and controlling costs to the taxpayers on both the county and municipal levels. We believe his leadership and executive skills will greatly serve Monmouth County residents in a political capacity as well.
“Shaun will move our party forward and is the best person to heal any fractures that have occurred over the years.
“We appreciate the good job that Chairman Bennett has done during his term, but now, we face new challenges as elected officials and political leaders. We can’t afford to rest on our laurels, but must move forward with fresh eyes and with a renewed commitment to improve our performance for the people we represent and serve.”
Fiore told MMM that the committee members were speaking for themselves, not for the Middletown Republican Organization. Middletown GOP Chairman Peter Carton is aware of their endorsement, but has yet to speak with Golden or Bennett, Fiore said.
Freehold, April 1 -Monmouth County Freeholder John P. Curley announced this morning that he will seek the Chairmanship of the Monmouth County Republican Organization when the GOP County Committee convenes to reorganize on June 10. Curley urged current Chairman John O. Bennett, III to not seek a second term.
“Throughout my public service I have promised to bring my experience in career proven business practices to place in making Monmouth County an affordable place to live and do business. We have made great strides and are in better shape that most counties in the country, but we can do better,” Curley said.
“We must measure our success not against the mediocrity of other government entities or other political organizations, but against the requirements of the people we serve. We must stamp out the remnants of the culture of cronyism from our party and make service our sole focus.
“When I was elected Freeholder in 2009 I brought forth a 23 point plan to create greater efficiency and reduce the size of government. This has been a work in progress slowed by bureaucratic inertia and political cronyism. We can do better and we can do better faster. I will provide the leadership to bring the Monmouth GOP and Monmouth’s county and municipal governments into the 21st century.”
“We know the Democrats are going to attack us this year based upon the Lucas and Brookdale/Burnham scandals. I am the Republican who brought those scandals to the prosecutors and ultimately, the perpetrators to justice. If I am leading the Monmouth GOP, the Democrats attacks will ring hollow. The attacks will be laughable.”
” Chairman Bennett has had a distinguished career as an Assemblyman, Senator, Senate President and Acting Governor. When John ran for Chairman two years ago, he said he promised to remove perceived and real conflicts from County politics and said serving as Chairman would be a nice way for him to cap off his career.
“I thank Chairman Bennett for his service and urge him to go out on top.”
Curley sent his first mailer to members of the County Committee this week. He promises a passionate and relentless campaign.
The borough is advertising the borough administrator position on its website and on the League of Municipalities site. Applications were due last week, but the ads are still running.
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The Borough Attorney, Bennett became the Acting Administrator in early November after the previous Acting Administrator, Phil Huhn, stepped down. Kimberly Jungfer resigned as Borough Administrator and Clerk to take the same job in neighboring Little Silver in June.
Bennett pitched the idea of being both the Borough Attorney and Administrator to Mayor Michael J. Mahon and the Council as a cost saving measure.
“It would be a win-win for everybody,” Bennett said, noting that the borough would save money in legal fees if he held both posts. He said he is not seeking pension credits or health benefits in the proposed position.
Freeholder Director John Curley said yesterday that there is no support on the Freeholder Board to purchase the development rights for Manalapan Township Committeeman Andrew Lucas’ 98 acre farm on Iron Ore Road, despite the fact that the purchase, which was approved by the Board in May of 2011, has been cleared of an ethics violation complaint by the State Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board and was approved by the State Agriculture Development Committee.
“If elected officials want to apply for government money for their properties, they should resign from office,” said Curley, “we should not be using the positions the voters entrusted us with to enrich ourselves.”
“Andrew Lucas has not been forthcoming about the details of his purchase of this property. The freeholders will not approve this purchase.”
Lucas, Manalapan’s former mayor and a former GOP candidate for freeholder, purchased the farm which had been slated for development in March of 2010 for an undisclosed amount. Soon thereafter he started the process of selling the development rights, for $1.152 million, through funding through the State, County and Township. Lucas participated on Township Committee discussions of his application.
The purchase approved by the Freeholder Board in May of 2011 was held up by an ethics complaint filed by former Manalapan Mayor George Spodak. The State Agriculture Developement Committee conditioned its funding on an satisfactory ethics review of the transaction. Local Finance Board Chairman Thomas Neff wrote Lucas last month to inform him that his application had been approved because he consulted with the Manalapan Township Attorney about his application. Neff’s letter also said that the Board would use Lucas’s case to provide clear guidance to future office holders to recuse themselves from applications that they have an interest in.
Spodak is outraged that Neff and the Local Finance Board cleared the ethics of the transaction. “I don’t think they even read my 111 page complaint,” said Spodak. “I sent Neff a letter appealing his decision but have not heard back from him.”
The county monies approved in 2011 for the purchase are no longer available. An article in the Asbury Park Press said that the county is applying for federal money to fund the purchase.
Curly said the the freeholders have not approved any federal grant application and will not approve the purchase.
Earlier yesterday, Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal issued a statement condemning the transaction as an example of Republcian cronyism, “Club Monmouth.” Gopal was critical of Neff’s ties to the Monmouth GOP as evidenced by his $750 to Monmouth GOP Chairman John Bennett’s leadership PAC while Bennett was President of the State Senate. Prior being appointed to his position with the Department of Community Affairs, Neff, an attorney, was an employee of the Republican Senate Caucus.
Informed of Curley’s opposition to the Lucas farm purchase and his representation that the other freeholders, all Republicans, also oppose it, Gopal said, “What has changed since they approved it last year? Only Amy Mallet (then a Democratic freeholder) voted against it in 2011.”
Monmouth GOP Chairman John O. Bennett III is to be applauded for his endeavors to keep his campaign promises. In particular, his efforts to codify bylaws, a nagging issue that has stymied several previous chairmen, are worthy of praise.
A windbag is someone who talks too much yet contributes little of value. Someone who complains yet offers no solutions. At MMM we’re not windbags.
We have no intention of telling Bennett how to run the party or select candidates. He should do what he thinks is best in how he structures the party and selects candidates. If he does well, we’ll praise him. If he screws up, we’ll be all over him with glee. Not because we want him to fail, but because the web traffic will go through the roof. This is a business after all.
It is in the spirit of not being a windbag and in driving traffic to this site, that we offer a solution to the bylaws problem that will let Chairman Bennett run the party and select candidates how he sees fit. More importantly, our solution will not hamstring future chairs with unintended consequences of the bylaws as proposed.
Monmouth GOP Chairman John O. Bennett has announced that a convention of the County Committee will be held on Saturday September 29 at Colts Neck High School for the purpose of adopting party by laws and to”rally for our candidates.” Previously, a new State Committeeman was to be elected at the convention to replace Bennett, but he has decided not to resign from that office.
Bennett has distributed his proposed by-laws for the county party to members of the county committee. A copy can be found here.
To Bennett’s credit, this “final draft” has been adjusted substantially to address the reactions that incumbent office holders had to his original proposed rules for nominating candidates that he unveiled last week at meetings with county elected officials and legislators, the as yet unofficial board of directors and the municipal chairs.
The original proposal for candidate selection would have given no consideration to incumbents. Anyone who submitted a letter of intent and appeared before a steering committee could have challenged an incumbent at nominating convention. This proposal, combined with the chairman’s instructions, not in the by-laws, that incumbents restrict and adjust their fundraising activities, left most county elected officers and some legislators feeling angry and vulnerable. This “final draft” has addressed the incumbents concerns, to a degree. Good thing too. Bennett was in danger of being as relevant to incumbent office holders as Chairman Bill Dowd was to Bennett when he was a senator. Not very.
Monmouth GOP Chairman John O. Bennett III invited Bayshore Tea Party Group Co-Founder Barbara Gonzalez to speak at the GOP Unity Breakfast last Saturday.
Gonzalez and fellow co-founder Robert Gordon responded on Monday by issuing a statement to say something that Gonzalez forgot to say to the Unity gathering on Saturday: Every Republican can expect a primary if they don’t do what the Tea Party wants them to do.
Former Senate President John O. Bennett, III announced his candidacy for Monmouth County Republican Chairman this afternoon. The following letter is being mailed to members of the Monmouth County Republican Committee:
I wanted to reach all of you as soon as possible after the Governor’s nomination of our County Chair, Joseph Oxley, to the Monmouth County Superior Court. Joe has served our County and Party well and will be an excellent Judge. As a result of his appointment, a new County Chair will need to be elected at our County Reorganization Meeting to be held on June 12, 2012, at the Colts Neck High School at 7:00 pm. I would like you to support me to fill that vacancy. I would consider the position of County Chair to be both an honor and a capstone to a very fulfilling political career.
I have been in public service for over 30 years, and I believe my extensive experience and background will serve the County Committee well. You will find a short resume enclosed that highlights my political life from Chairman of the Young Republicans of Monmouth County to my current position of Treasurer of the New Jersey Republican State Committee.
A few points that I wanted to share with you which I feel are important for our party.
1) I believe in the County Convention System for candidate selection.
2) Every effort should be made to fill as many county Committee slots as possible.
3) A working set of bylaws will be established within 60 days of my becoming County Chair.
4) I pledge to forego all County legal work during my term as chair. My daughter, Meghan Bennett Clark, Esq., is currently the First Assistant County Counsel, and has agreed to resign immediately upon my selection as Chair.
5) Neither I, nor any member of my law firm, will take any paid appointments from the County during my term as Chair. The perception of any conflicts must be removed, and no County chair should be employed by the County in any capacity.
6) There needs to be improved communication between the County party and the local parties. I will establish a working Board of Directors from throughout the County to report back to the Chair regarding issues and events and regular meetings will be held.
7) Headquarters in Freehold should be open and available to all Monmouth County GOP groups.
9) Every effort should be made to value differences of opinion and have internal disputes resolved privately.
10) Last, but certainly not least, the County Party must refocus on raising money. During my tenure as Senate President I raised more money than any other Republican in that time except for a sitting Governor. The Chair needs to participate, while also abiding by all pay-to-play rules and negotiations.
I am asking for your support as County Chair in order to implement this platform and keep Monmouth County strong and Republican. Together we can make a difference.