Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Today marks the swearing-in of the new State Assembly, and one fixture from Monmouth County will sadly not be among those taking the oath. Capt. Joseph Azzolina will retire from the Assembly, due to a close loss in the June 2005 Republican Primary. He will be succeeded by Freeholder Amy H. Handlin.
Azzolina has been compared to the late British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill. Although of different generations, the two men bear a striking physical resemblance, and both men are known for their eminently quotable, plain-spoken (and sometimes salty) demeanor. What you see is what you get. Both are war heroes as well as statesmen.
Azzolina was one of the most senior members of the Legislature at the time of his retirement, having served, with a few breaks in service, since January 1966. Elected to the Assembly in the 1965 election, Azzolina served in the lower house until 1972, when he took a seat in the State Senate. He served in the Senate for a two-year term; he was defeated for re-election in the 1973 Democrat landslide. A 1977 Senate campaign likewise proved unsuccessful.
Azzolina returned to the political scene in 1985. Running with the late Joann Smith of Old Bridge, he and Smith defeated incumbent Democratic Assembly members William Flynn and Jacqueline Walker. The 13th District has remained in Republican hands ever since. Azzo
lina ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 1987, and had another hiatus from the legislature; he returned in 1992 and served admirably until the end of the last term.
Azzolina has built a record as an effective legislator, but his successes are not only political. He served in the Navy and Naval reserve for over fo
rty years. He built a family-owned mom & pop grocery store into the multi-store Food Circus corporation. His philanthropy is done the way it should be - quietly, without any self-aggrandizement. It's not about publicity, it's about helping people.
The Convention and Primary of 2005 were truly unfortunate indeed. It has been said that events were manipulated by two successive Monmouth County G. O. P. Chairmen to replace Azzolina with Handlin. Some said that he could not win in November due to controversy over the Town Center development proposed by members of the Azzolina and Scaduto families. While I most certainly would have advised the Assemblyman to handle the situation somewhat differently, in particular his address to the Middletown Township Committee, I believe that, district-wide, he would have overcome that issue and been reelected to the Assembly, especially in light of the lackluster pair of candidates the Democrats ran in '05.
So, whether you call him Assemblyman Azzolina, "Joe Az", "The Captain", "Mr. A", "The Old Man (Not to his face!)" or simply Joe, The Monmouth County Republican Blog salutes Joseph Azzolina and the many years of service he has provided. He will be missed in Trenton, but I know he will be a fixture in Monmouth County Republican politics for many years to come, and he will continue to serve his fellow man.


Jackie Corley said...

Thanks, Abe -- this is just lovely.

I'll print out a copy and show it to Mr. A.

Rick said...

Middletown dumped Azzolina due to the Town Center debacle and that cost him the election

His brash, arrogant defense of an indefensible project was his undoing. He dismissed anyone who spoke out against the project as idiots.

Many of his long-time supporters actually refuse to shop at his stores because of his family's push for this project.


Anonymous said...

Abe, you're making me ill.

Anonymous said...

You just lost a ton of credibility in my book.


Hold on "Rick": Joe Azzolina was not the principal of Town Center (that's first). Second, how do YOU defend the four or five non-age restricted housing projects going up on routes 35 and 36, as well as in Port Monmouth.

Non-age restricted housing brings kids to an already troubled school district, creates infrastructure needs that are already not being met by an already understaffed township.

At least Azzolina's plan CREATED jobs and put people to work in Middletown with ratables that would not have COST the township taxpayers money, but would have put money into township coffers.

You can't have it both ways: Either Town Center was flawed AND the current ongoing residential developments are wrong OR Town Center created "clean ratables" and new jobs (and by the way, it didn't have a quarter of the housing going up).

So what is it? Or do you have to ask someone what you think?

Rick said...

Thanks for responding "Jim".

1. I never suggested Joe was a principal of the Town Center project. I'm merely suggesting that he lost the elction because of his support for it and because his family was involved. That's all. Do you think there's a differnt reason he lost? I'm all ears...

2. Not sure how non age-restricted housing figures into this thread but....since you brought it up:

What's to defend? I'm against any more high-density residential development. Where did you ever get the idea I was pro-development? I routinely speak out against it at my Council and Planning Board meetings. BTW, I'm also opposed to age-restricted housing too. Contrary to what you may believe, ALL DEVELOPMENT(to include PRC's)brings undesireable side effects. Quality of life, for the residents who have to put up with this type of irresponsible development, isn't easily measured in terms of dollars and cents either. Don't forget those nasty COAH (Council On Affordable Housing)requirements that come with ALL DEVELOPMENT. 1 unit of affordable housing required for every 8 CO's issued. I COAH unit for every so many thousand square feet of commercial space developed also. 50% of all COAH units MUST be family units. A community can only sell 1/2 it's COAH obligations to another town too.

What does this mean?

The Town Center(like ALL development), as proposed, WILL BRING COAH OBLIGATIONS with it. Half will be family units...that means more kids to educate...and that means.....higher taxes.

How's Middletown doing with is Affordable Housing plan BTW? Where do they propose building them? Remember....the town can only sell half, the other half MUST be built in town somewhere.


Don't build them and Joe Developer goes to court to seek a "builders remedy lawsuit".

I was able to write this all by myself too. No need to phone a friend or anything...

Heh! Heh!


Anonymous said...

As he was saving England did Churchill build a couple of malls someplace? Have to go back and reread the history books.

Honest Abe said...

This thread is a tribute to Joe Azzolina's overall career which spans decades. The Town Center is but a miniscule part of this career. And you will note that I do point out that had I had the opportunity I would have advised that he handle that issue differently.

Anonymous said...

OJ had a great football career - what is he going to be remembered for?

Whatever he might have done when he was younger, the last 5-6 years Azzolina has devoted to attacking Republicans not only in Middletown, but throughout the Bayshore and throughout the county. His litmus test is whether you question his business dealings. The "big-tent" of the Republican party should extend beyond that.

Michael Borg said...

Captain Joe Azzolina was a great patriot and leader. There could have been better terms for him stepping down. I think we all would have liked to see him go out with the tribute he deserves.

I do think he may have been given bad advice by associates. He should have had surrogates take on the Town Center project and not tied himself so personally to it.

On an entirely different note, Mr. Purcell, you have been given incorrect information on Aberdeen. Myself and Gus Toomey ran the Aberdeen republican campaign, Fred Niemann did not call any shots in Aberdeen. Which may be a reason we lost? My inexperience as chairman may have contributed to our defeat.

I don't believe the Courier covered the Matawan/Aberdeen Train Station development fairly.

Fact: The dem plan called for ten story buildings.

Fact: Their plan called for twelve thousand parking spaces.

Fact: They wanted to develop the Henry Hudson Trail into an access road for commuters to get to the train station.

The dems took three separate checks from developers totaling $15,000, those developers were eventually awarded developing priviledges. You did not ask them to give the money back!

I have nothing to gain from my activity, I don't have a county job, I am not a lawyer, and don't work for developers, engineering firms, or accountants. I wanted to stop the train station development because I, and many others thought their plan was bad for both Aberdeen and Matawan. I don't live in the upscale Strathmore section, my children will grow up down the block from the train station, I wanted that development stopped for them and the children they will grow up with.


Dear Mike:

I would like to discuss the train station in an open manner. I think it would be good. But, this thread is about Big Joe and not the Train Station. I don't agree with your comments. But, I respect your point of view, as I do anyone else's. I don't have a problem with differing points of view.

Let's just do it on another thread, either in the paper or on my blog or wherever or whenever you want where it is appropriate.

I stand by the train station storyline and the work we did with it 110 percent.

All my best,


grandma puckett said...

I agree with Mr. Borg's assertion that the Courier's coverage of the Matawan/Aberdeen Train Station story was pretty unfair in the respect that it focused on one player, instead of opening the Pandora's Box that it is. Whether or not the dialogue on the subject continues is another matter - it needs to be discussed locally, by the residents it directly affects. The republicans in Aberdeen may have gotten the win they deserved if the fact that Spalliero was a major player in the Aberdeen Forge project emerged prior to election day.


Aberdeen Forge, in my opinion, is a red herring. The controversy around it, to my knowledge, is something of an invention. But, I am always open to the ideas of others.

Insofar as Aberdeen Forge there are a lot of "ifs" and "maybes". Regarding the train station, we have facts that are not disputable. The water was tainted and we have the documents. They're online if you'd like to inspect them at Bayshore Journalista. The link is on Abe's homepage.

You have something like that about Aberdeen Forge?

yadda yadda yadda said...

Interesting how the ELEC reports become unreadable when it concerns certain parties. Folks, if you want the news go to your local council meeting and throw ALL newspapers in your incinerators please. Just cause it's in print don't make it gospel.