Brick Township this year will navigate its way through an unexpected mayoral battle as well as control of the township council, races that could lead to significant changes at town hall – or a continuation of the policies put into motion by former mayor John Ducey.
Partisan candidates for June’s primary election were required to register this week. In Brick, the mayoral seat as well as four council seats are up for grabs. While there were initial fears that the civil war between rival factions of the county’s Republican party – playing out in a major way in Toms River – would spill over into Brick, there is a single, unified ticket put forth by the GOP being led by state Assemblyman John Catalano, who is not seeking re-election to state office.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lisa Crate, who was selected to fill the seat of Ducey – who was appointed a Superior Court judge – until the end of the year, will run for the remaining two years of her popular predecessor’s term. She will be joined in her campaign by Councilwoman Melissa Travers, who was sworn into office this week and, likewise, is filling Crate’s former seat on the council for the remainder of 2023.
Democrats have a 6-1 majority on the governing body and have held the mayor’s office since 2013, however in the most recent general election, Republicans experienced their first municipal-level victory in more than a decade with the election of Councilman Perry Albanese. While Crate has pledged to continue on with the policies that propelled Ducey’s popularity with residents, the Democrats lost the advantage of a well-known and popular incumbent at the top of their ticket. The 2023 election is also significant in that the majority party on the seven-member township council could conceivably change all at once if three of the GOP’s four candidates connect with voters in a town where Republicans have a registration advantage. Brick, of course, has long been an outlier in Ocean County, with residents historically splitting their votes between local and state and national candidates on the ballot.
The tickets have shaped up as follows:
Lisa Crate – Mayor (Incumbent, Filling Unexpired Term)
Vince Minichino – Council (Incumbent)
Derrick Ambrosino – Council (Incumbent, Filling Unexpired Term)
Steve Feinman – Council (Newcomer)
Melissa Travers – Council (Incumbent, Filling Unexpired Term)
John Catalano – Mayor (Current N.J. Assemblyman, Former Councilman)
Mary Jonas Buckley – Council (Newcomer)
Theresa Gallagher – Council (Newcomer)
James Palmisano – Council (Former Board of Education Member)
Rocco Palmieri – Council (Newcomer)
No individual candidates outside of those endorsed by their respective parties registered to run in the primary election, leaving both slates of candidates unopposed in June, and effectively settled for November.