A Republican-turned-independent former Brick Township councilman plans to run on an anti-nepotism and cost-savings platform in a bid for mayor this year.
Anthony Matthews, who served on the council from 2003 to 2011, plans on making his return to politics in this year’s mayoral run, joining a field that includes incumbent Mayor John Ducey, two Republicans and another independent candidate.
Matthews said he is ready to return the Brick political scene to run against both party candidates, promising to introduce strict anti-nepotism ordinance and other laws that would bar elected officials from giving jobs to family members and political allies. Elected officials themselves would be barred from employment for a number of years equal to the time they served under his plan.
Matthews resigned from the council in 2011 after landing a job at the Brick Township Housing Authority, but he said his own job was “clean up the mess” that a party-affiliated predecessor made of the enterprise. The housing authority was in the news this week when Matthews’ replacement, Alesia R. Watson, pleaded guilty to embezzling federal funds from the Ocean City Housing Authority.
“One of the reasons I am back is because people are tired of what’s going on,” Matthews told Shorebeat, adding that residents have requested he return to municipal government. “They use the taxpayers’ assets to better their own lives.”
Matthews said members of both political parties have stacked township government with family members and patronage employees, and his proposals would put a stop to the practice. He would also favor a strong anti- “pay to play” ordinance to curb public contracts being paid to firms which donate to candidates.
“We had a public works director go to jail, a mayor go to jail, problems with unpaid bills at the MUA,” Matthews said, recalling notable scandals in Brick’s political history that were ongoing when he first was elected to the council. “It was good that things were getting done, but the people I was working with were getting more concerned with getting their family members jobs than the business of the public.”
Matthews, who is still recovering from a car accident in which he was rear-ended earlier this year, said he will be Brick’s “full time” mayor, and will not seek or accept public employment elsewhere.
“I will be the mayor of Brick only, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “I’m a worker, and I do what I say.”