Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The New Howell
In Western Monmouth County, west of Freehold, but not as far as Millstone, is the Township of Manalapan. While since the 60's much of its green farmland has been replaced by suburbia, the southern and western portions of the township still have many a pastoral acre.
Politically, Manalapan has for many years been relatively quiet as it slowly cycled between Democratic and Republican control. During the 70's, it became a Democratic powerhouse with the construction of Hovnanian's Covered Bridge 55 & over development and its largely New York derived residents. The GOP regained control in the 80's. Walter Lieberman was the local GOP chair at the time. It was during this time that Jack McKenna and Jim Gray served on the Township Committee. Jim Gray is now Monmouth County's genial Clerk of the Board.
After a while, control went back to the Democrats. The Dems would have their intra-party battles, but have retained their majority.
The GOP has, however, elected Andrew Lucas and Joseph Locricchio.
Running mates in 2004, party divisions in the past year have led to a falling out between the two, with Lucas allied with Republican Municipal Chair Steve McEnery, and Locricchio "on the outs". This party split materialized for all to see at the January 7 reorganization meeting where Lucas was selected as Mayor in a 3 - 1 vote, with two Democrats voting yes and Locricchio voting no. Some say it first reared its ugly head with a 2006 Lincoln Day ad featuring the slogan, "No Gray Skies over Manalapan", which some considered a direct slight against former Mayor Gray.
Locricchio is now running for State Senate in the 12th District, contesting Jennifer Beck in the June primary.