By Jay Cook |
MIDDLETOWN – Freeholder John P. Curley will be the fifth candidate in a crowded county race after filing a petition with 473 signatures, qualifying him to run as an Independent in the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders general election in November.
Curley, 61, from Middletown, told The Two River Times he’ll be running under the banner of “Fighting Corruption Together.”
“I am not part of a gang or a gang mentality,” Curley said by phone Wednesday. “I represent the people on an individual basis and I think that’s extremely, extremely important. I don’t follow any political or party doctrine.”
Curley said his campaign slogan is reflective of the watchdog mentality he has employed as a Monmouth County Freeholder. He uncovered a financial scandal in 2012 surrounding former Brookdale Community College president Peter F. Burnham, who pleaded guilty to stealing $44,000 of college funds to pay for reimbursements for personal expenses, lodging, meals and his son’s tuition at Monmouth University.
Curley also alerted authorities when former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas used fraudulent money to purchase a 97-acre farm in the township that was later preserved using $1.12 million in taxpayer funds. Lucas was found guilty in 2014. Afterward, the county passed a resolution prohibiting a sitting official from enrolling in the farmland preservation program.
“The public needs to have a watchdog because the public doesn’t realize what goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “I think having a strong watchdog, which I’ve obviously been, is important to make sure the taxpayers are getting a fair shake.”
Curley, a longtime Republican, was not endorsed by the party this year after the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders censured him in December for allegedly making “salacious and vulgar statements” to a fellow elected official and county employees. He’s currently suing the Monmouth County Freeholders over a violation of his civil rights.
“Allegations, innuendos, insinuations, it’s a very, very difficult world. People can say anything about anybody at any time,” Curley said when asked how his opponents would use those allegations against him. “I’m just going to go run on my record and continue to do the positive things for people.”
Some of his other positions during this election will be continuing a consistent record of voting against county tax increases; restoring funding to Brookdale Community College, his alma mater; supporting vocational workforce training; and continuing to advocate on behalf of veterans, senior citizens and county-wide food drives.
Curley is a third-term Monmouth County Freeholder who was sworn into his first term in 2010 after serving as a Red Bank Borough councilman. He hasn’t lost an election since 2006 when he narrowly lost to current Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna in a mayor’s election.
He will face off against a full slate on the county level in what is usually a quiet year. Typically in every third year, only one seat is open, but the departure of Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-13) to Trenton from the freeholder board means her seat is also up for grabs.
Curley will be running against Republican Sue Kiley and Democrat Amber Gesslein for his three-year full-term position at the county. Monmouth County Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger – a Republican who filled DiMaso’s vacancy – and Democrat Larry Luttrell will face off for a one-year unexpired term.
The former Republican candidate said he did not consider a running mate in this election because he plans to run “on my own volition and own record.”
Curley also said he’s “very excited” for this election despite the factors surrounding it.
“I’ll be straightforward as I’ve always been,” he said. “And again, I’m not answering to any political bosses.”
This article was first published in the June 7-June 14, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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