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 While since the 60's much of its green farmland has been replaced by suburbia, the southern and western portions of the township still have many a pastoral acre.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.
Lately, much has been appearing on various sources, like the NJ.com Manalapan Forum, the blog Da Truth Squad and elsewhere demonstrating that politics in Manalapan is becoming a contact sport, making it "The New Howell."


Mr. Whipple said...

Does that make Andrew Lucas the new Joe DiBella?

ginger Hoffmeier said...

Say what you will about Howell politics but notice that Howell's Republican voters showed how unhappy they are with Team DiBella at the last election. It wasn't the Dems that took them down.

The majority of the council is now made up of Independents -- but I think Republicans at heart trying to take back their party. (Howell being Howell, if they don't work out they won't last either.)

Howell residents are usually active participants in their government and this is how it should be.

At the next election I hope to see the tail end of DiBella himself and Cindy Schomaker scuttling out of office. Hopefully the county Republicans will catch on as fast as Howell residents and not run them for a higher office.

With luck Howell's United Republican Club will find some better candidates to run here. There is no shortage of good Republican residents willing to run but it will take courage on the part of the URC to take a stand and choose someone unfriendly to developers regardless of the campaign contributions they bring.

In case anyone needs a reminder why DiBella needs to be a faded memory, the Colts Neck Crossing fiasco should be enough. If not, there's Frequency Engineering Labs. If DiBella's secretive actions didn't get nipped in the bud Howell residents would be paying millions for a toxic waste cleanup and millions more for lawsuits.

And then there's Team DiBellas smooth move that now has 100 low-income apartments being built where only 7 (seven) homes were allowed on two-acre sites.

He also manuevered the county and state out of preserving the Pinnacle site adjacent to the Manasquan Reservoir as open space. That's now going to be filled with homes instead of trails and open space for all county residents to enjoy.

DiBella is still the mayor until the next election and he runs a nice, orderly meeting but I notice he is shrinking before our very eyes. He seems to be fading away in his mayoral seat at meetings and I'm sure he sees the writing on the wall.

Cindy Schomaker wasn't at the last meeting and seems to be less and less concerned with Howell. She might have her eyes on bigger and better things.