Thursday, October 19, 2006


So far, it's been a quiet county campaign this year. As the Democratic candidates hone their skills at writing ELEC reports and concession speeches, Surrogate candidate Rosemarie Peters, Freeholder Anna C. Little and Freeholder candidate Andrew Lucas are working hard, meeting people and not taking victory for granted. Indeed, Anna has built a solid reputation as a no-nonsense reformer.
Something weird has been going on in, you guessed it, Howell.
A few weeks ago, we saw the withdrawal of the entire Democratic ticket in the township. This leaves in the field the Republican ticket of Deputy Mayor Pete Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Ed Skibicki; and an Independent ticket led by Councilman Bob Walsh.
What's weird is that this is the second consecutive year that the Democrats have not run a ticket in Howell. Now, that would normally be the Democrats' problem, but the word "deal" has been thrown about here. Some have alleged that the Democrats never intended to field a slate in Howell, and that they would back the Independents.
Now, the Independent group in Howell appears at least in part to have originated as a faction within the local GOP that chose to skip the primary process and go right to the General Election. Indeed, a number of its supporters remain committed Republicans on the county level, attending such functions as Lincoln Day and The Affiliated. That would make a deal with the Dems less likely.
Why is this even relevant in a county blog? Howell is Monmouth County's largest municipality in land area, and is second only to Middletown in population and registered voters. It is an important town for county candidates to carry. We might win without Howell, but it sure helps to have it in our column.
So does the current situation help us or hurt us on the county level? Is the withdrawal en masse of the Democratic ticket part of a deal with the Independents, or just another in a series of Democratic fumbles in Monmouth County? Does it hurt the county Democrats not to have local candidates?
Your comments, please.


Honest Abe said...

A word to commenters:
Howell is a town where passions run high and people take their politics seriously. I'd like to keep this thread as relevant as possible, mainly how the situation impacts the county election, if it even does.
So, opinions are welcome; let's keep personalities out of it.

Sue Veitengruber said...

Howell voters have always picked and chosen candidates among the various columns on the ballot. Strong Republicans at the top of the ticket do not necessarily translate into local Republican victories. Last year Forrester won overwhelmingly in Howell, but Howell voters elected Independent candidate Bob Walsh. All politics are local, especially in Howell.

Does the current election fray impact the County Republicans? It certainly does not affect Congressman Smith who has given Howell his attention over the years.But the county GOP?

It probably does not help that the Commissioner of Elections/Howell GOP Municipal Chair disparged Independent and Democrat officals and voters. After all the largest number of voters in Howell is undeclared.

Check out the thread: ....GOP Chairwomen says, off with his head! -- on page 2 of the Howell Community section of

Then there are the demands of DiBella for a closed, no-live debate rather than the standard League of Women voters format for his slate of candidates. Guess that would have been the request had he received the Freeholder nod, also.

And the last element is the general feeling of Had Enough with the 54% increase in municipal taxes, the $40 million increase (300%+) in bonding, the skyrocketing professional fees and the attempts to bring high density housing to parts of Howell during the four years the Republicans have held the majority in Howell.

Will those local issues affect the County candiates? They are new names and faces. However, so are the Dems, except for Barbara McMorrow who was the principal of
Howell High. Factor in the Kean/Menendez race and you just never know in Howell where politics tends to be a contact sport.

Sue Veitengruber said...

For those who do not get the
Asbury Park Press, here's the link to today's editorial:

Let the Public In:

Tom said...

Mr Walsh has said many times he has some very strong Republicans at the core of the independent contingent. The fact is people in Howell are tired of the heavy handed tactics used by Joe Dibella, Norine Kelly who are trying desperately to hold onto to power!
DiBella and Kelly have been an embarrassment not only to Howell but to the county and State Republicans as well.
Joe Dibella had Senators Kyrillos and Bennet along with County Chairman Neiman as well as a host of other county and state republican heavyweights in his corner for the Freeholder seat and he still couldn't win because he embarrassed them with his ridiculous antics!

I don't know if Bob Walsh and co. are the answer but they've got to be better than what we've got now so in my opinion its time to make a change!

Honest Abe said...

Tom. So does this affect the county election in any way? Will it take votes away from Kean, Smith, Peters, Lucas and Little? Or is this situation irrelevant to the top of the ticket?

Tom said...

I don't think its going to help!

Sharon Migliaccio said...

I don't think it will affect the top of the ticket....unless it appears that the Freeholders have close ties to the local Republican organization.

So far, I think Little , Lucas and Peters have kept a cordial relationship with the local GOP, without appearing to march lockstep with them

Sue Veitengruber said...

Howell candidates differ on debate format

GOP wants closed-door event

Well that article doesn't help.

ginger Hoffmeier said...

Joe Oxley wants to house Philly prisoners in Freehold. That isn't going to help either. Jailbird families will follow them here flooding the school system and filling those new hotels Howell has planned.

There are a lot of things the county GOP has to consider if they want Howell's Republican votes.

Sue Veitengruber said...

In the ongoing debate about the debate I thought it might be helpful for people to see the original letter sent to the League of Women Voters by DiBella. After two bad press articles and a negative editorial, he is trying desperately to spin the issue:

October 12, 2006

Ms. Sharon Steinhorn
Voter Service Chair
League of Women Voters – Western Monmouth

Re: Candidates Forum, Howell Township NJ

Dear Ms. Steinhorn:

It was a pleasure speaking with you earlier today. As discussed, I have been asked by Howell Council candidates Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki to work with the League of Women Voters in arranging a candidates forum in our community. Deputy Mayor Tobasco and Councilman Robert F. Walsh discussed the matter and both sides agreed that such a forum would be beneficial for the voters of Howell Township.

I was able to locate the Western Monmouth contact, Ms. Myrna Kleiman, from your web site. I had called Ms. Kleiman to discuss the logistics with her and then today, received your letter. We’re delighted to hear that you would be the person to moderate such an event in Howell Township. On behalf of Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki, we would hereby request that the event be held on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006 at 7pm. In addition, it is the positron of Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki that this event be designed so that the event will be made available to as many Howell voters as possible. It is also their position that the candidates have an obligation to participate in a venue that is respectful and professional and focused on having a comprehensive discussion regarding the major policy issues facing the community.

With this in mind, Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki propose the following measures be taken to achieve their objectives;

• The forum is to be televised live on Howell Township’s public access channel, station #77. By broadcasting the event, the candidates can ensure that the maximum number of voters will be able to have access to the event and benefit from the dialogue. The event should be broadcast the following evening at 7pm;

• That the questions be collected in advance via the Township’s public web site. Specifically, we’d request that the League work with the Township Manager to establish a faculty on the web site to allow residents to submit questions electronically. The League can work with the Township Manager’s office to independently and objectively design this process. This can be done easily since the Township presently has a venue to allow for this. We would suggest that residents be able to submit questions from the date the link is created on the web through the close of business on October 31st. The Township Manager can print and direct the questions directly to you without any candidate involvement. Alternatively, the process can be designed to that questions are instantly directed to your email as they are entered on the site. Regardless of delivery, the process shall afford the maximum number of voters and community members to be able to submit questions’

• For those that may not have access to a computer, we suggest that they be directed to phone in their question to the Township Manager or Clerk who shall inventory the questions and keep a log of any calls received. Questions received in this way are to be turned over to the League along with any questions submitted electronically;

• The forum shall take place at the Howell Township municipal building, main chambers. This room is equipped with a sound system and video recording device. The League can coordinate the scheduling of the event with the Township Manager. I shall also take the liberty to contact that office to ensure the room is made available;

• As to ensure the most professional standards of decorum, we suggest that the event be held without a live audience. Further, we suggest each candidate limit the number of people that can be attendance. As is traditional with debates and forum for candidates seeking higher offices, audience participating is generally limited to immediate family and a limited campaign staff. This ensures that the event is professionally maintained without the normal distractions that can be caused by overzealous supporters from either slate of candidates. Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki wish to ensure the event is serious and held any interruptions for any candidate. We would suggest that each candidate limit the number of attendees to three. Since the event will be televised, everyone will have access to the event;

• To accommodate those residents who do not have access to cable TV, we suggest that DVDs of the session be immediately made available (unedited) to the public at Town Hall and that the candidates equally absorb the cost for DVD production. We also suggest that the Township Library be supplied with ten (10) DVDs for viewing at the library for someone without access to a DVD player or computer;

• No outside video recording devices should be allowed inside the premises;

• Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki agree to the other traditional rules used by the League. This includes agreeing to hold at least a 60 minute forum, agreeing to the time allotments for answering and responding, the opening and closing statement and the prohibition of campaign materials anywhere inside the municipal building, in accordance with Township policy.

We would respectfully request that you confirm your agreement with the aforementioned, which is what I outlined to you via telephone. At that time, you reacted favorably to these measures and were kind enough to point out that other communities have used the internet to allow for the submission and collection of questions. Since time is of the essence, we would respectfully request that you contact the Township Manager to discuss the web site details. The Manager’s name is Thomas Czerniecki. He may be reached on 732-938-4500, Extension 2102.

As it relates to Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki, please direct any questions or comments to my attention. Please let me know once the date and details have been confirmed and agreed to by the ticket of Mr. Howell, Ms. Dalton and Councilman Walsh. Thank you in advance and for your service to Western Monmouth.


Joseph M. DiBella

Joseph M. DiBella
For the Campaign of Deputy Mayor Peter Tobasco, Mauro Raccuglia and Edward Skibicki
Phone: (732) 761-8734

Paid for by Committee to Elect Tobasco, Raccuglia and Skibicki, J, O’Connell, Treasurer, Howell NJ 07731

Sharon Migliaccio said...

Looks like Mayor DiBella crashed and burned Friday night (10-27) on the pages of, running roughshod on the majority of posters there...your truly included.

His thinly ( and not so) veiled threats of releasing executive session material and taped conversations was really very sad...Especially when the material has been discussed ad nauseam for months, even years.

Why attack people who aren't even running? Why show that you believe your ticket is weak by going ballistic?

Boy, I bet the county is breathing a collective sigh of relief that he isn't running for Freeholder.

However, his antics on Friday are beginning to affect the other Republican candidates on the ticket. Maybe if the county leaders can keep him in a strait acket (so to speak) until Nov 7 they will be OK.