By Liz Sheehan |
SEA BRIGHT – Incumbent Democrat Charles Rooney III easily won reelection to a second term on the Borough Council Tuesday with 352 votes, while Independent Jon Schwartz, who received 256 votes, was elected to his first term on the council.
Republican candidate, incumbent John Lamia Jr., will not get a second term, garnering only 217 votes. First-time candidate Republican Pamela Ross also lost her bid for a council seat with 191 votes. There were four write-in votes.
The results are from the Monmouth County Clerk’s office, but not yet official. There are 1,174 registered voters in the town, according to the office of the Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections, and a total of 1,020 votes were cast.
Mayor Dina Long, an Independent, had endorsed Rooney and Schwartz, saying she wanted more political diversity on the council. Council president Jack Keeler backed Lamia and Ross.
There are now two Democrats (Rooney and Marc Leckstein), two Republicans (Keeler and Brian Kelly), and two Independents (Schwartz and Kevin Birdsall) on the council.
But political parties did not play a prominent role in the most contentious issue that occupied the council and the town in the last few years: rebuilding the facilities the town lost in Super Storm Sandy. Democrats Rooney and Leckstein, Republican Kelly and Independent Long joined forces to shepherd through a bond issue to replace the library, police department headquarters, firehouse and beach facility wrecked by the storm.
Lamia and Keeler voted against the bond issue for the buildings, which was approved by the council, citing the need to lower the costs of the project by looking for alternatives to the plans. Voters approved the bonds in a referendum.
In a Nov. 6 post on the Facebook Group “All About Sea Bright,” Kelly wished all the candidates good luck and added, “Just a reminder that Charlie Rooney was a major help keeping our post-Sandy municipal projects on track! What kind of a town would we have if our police and fire had to stay in trailers and rentals because our town could not bond for these essential services?”
Rooney, who said before the election that one of the main reasons he initially ran for council was to work to replace buildings the town lost, was running again to finish that task.
After the election results were read Wednesday night, Rooney said, “I’m just happy for the town of Sea Bright. We’re going to get to continue” the progress made on rebuilding.
“Jon Schwartz will be a good addition,” he said. “I look forward to the next three years not playing politics.”
Rooney is the son of a former mayor of the town and owns the Rooney Produce Company.
After the election results were announced Wednesday, Schwartz, the president of Schwartz Mazda in Shrewsbury, said, “I look forward to serving the taxpayers of Sea Bright.” He said he will use his business expertise to cut the borough’s expenses.
In an interview before the election, Schwartz said he had already reduced both the electricity and telephone bills for the borough by $10,000 each by advising the town to change vendors.
Schwartz, who is now a member of the Unified Planning Board, said he was in favor of having the designated member of the council who is on that board rotate.
“I’d like to see a rotation so they could see what goes on.” he said.
This article was first published in the Nov. 9-16, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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