Before this year’s primary election even took place, Republicans seeking to take back the township council from its current all-Democrat majority had raised over $12,000 and spent over $6,000 – a harbinger of what is likely to be a high-stakes race which will produce six-figure campaign spending by Election Day in November.
Democrats, who currently hold the mayor’s office in addition to all seven council seats, have not filed any reports indicating they have spent any money on the campaign thus far. Incumbents Jim Fozman, Susan Lydecker and Andrea Zapcic, plus newcomer Arthur Halloran, are seeking to retain the council for the Democrats. The ticket of Frank Pannucci, Jr., Michael Conti, Charlie Bacon and Dan Toth are seeking to flip the governing body into the GOP’s hands.
The Republican team took in $12,275 by May 22, the last date a report was filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. They spent $6,025 by the same date.
According to the report, one of the largest single items purchased by the GOP ticket was background checks on their opponents, for which they spent $852.45. The team also spent $3,950 to book the Crystal Point Yacht Club for a “Meet the Candidates” fundraiser in April. Advertising and mailers accounted for $700 in spending and marketing services for the Meet the Candidates event cost $419.45.
The Republican ticket’s contributors have included the firm of Gilmore and Monahan, headed by Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, which donated $1,200. The Forked River-based law firm of Dasti, Murphy, McGuckin, Ulaky, Koutsouris & Connors – whose partners include GOP state Sen. Chris Connors and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin – donated $600. Owen, Little and Associates, a Beachwood-based engineering firm, and Remington, Vernick and Vena, a Toms River engineering firm, also donated $600. Holman Frenia Allison, a Toms River auditing firm, donated $600 as well.
In the last major election cycle, in 2013, Republicans spent $240,528 and Democrats spent $152,536. In the 2014 race, during which just one council seat was up for grabs, candidates spent a minimal amount of money on the campaign. For 2015, majorities on both the council and the Board of Education are up for grabs, and at least one independent candidate, Bob Moore, will be competing against both parties.