By John Burton |
MONMOUTH BEACH – The reorganization of the municipal government on Tuesday saw a new member come on board for the governing body and a call from one resident for a change at the top.
David F. Stickle, the newest member, was sworn in at the meeting for a four-year term on the three-member commission, the municipality’s governing body.
Stickle, 58, was the top vote-getter by a wide margin in the May 9 election in the four-way race for the three spots. Based upon vote tallies, Stickle’s 528 votes, according to the county clerk’s office, led to the ouster of incumbent Jeffrey W. Mitchell, Jr.
Mitchell had campaigned with fellow incumbents James F. Cunniff and Susan Howard, with the three running on the same ticket under the banner “Proven Leadership Putting You First,” for the non-partisan election.
The mayor’s position is selected by the majority vote of the commission members. Howard, who has been on the commission for 12 years and has served as mayor for those 12 years, was again selected for the post. But the vote was 2-1 for Howard, with Stickle voting no.
The renaming of Howard as mayor rankled Bayonne Street resident Tom “Tugger” Degnan. Degnan commended Howard’s service and credited her with turning the municipal-operated bathing pavilion, its pool and beach club, into a “cash cow” for the borough.
But Degnan asked that Howard step aside and “listen to the voters,” to let Stickle take on the mayor’s role. Stickle’s election, according to Degnan “represents a new direction for Monmouth Beach,” given he received nearly twice as many votes as the next candidate.
Howard said she wouldn’t resign.
“One more question to you, Mayor Howard,” Degnan asked. “Do you believe what you’re doing is morally right?”
“I don’t think there’s any question about my dedication to this town or Jim’s dedication,” Howard concluded, referring to her running mate. Cunniff has been a commissioner for 20 years.
Borough attorney Dennis Collins explained to Degnan that with Monmouth Beach’s form of government, the designated mayor is just one of three voting members, with no additional authority, other than probably just being able to officiate marriages and oversee commission meetings.
Afterward Stickle explained his vote. “Mayor Howard has done a great job and I believe she will continue to do a great job,” as mayor, he said. But, he continued, “it was expressed to me they wanted me as mayor,” referring to his supporters.
Stickle, 58, is married with three young adult sons and owns and operates a warehouse business equipment company. “I just wanted to help the town,” he said of his reason for running for office, his first attempt at public office, believing his business experience would be beneficial.
The concerns for the community remain the same, he explained, as it continues to address Super Storm Sandy recovery issues and flood mitigation. “And, of course, keeping taxes low,” he added.
This article was first published in the May 11-18, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times
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