Lakewood Briefs

Mo Hill Wins Upset Victory in Toms River GOP Mayoral Primary

Maurice “Mo” Hill, a Toms River town councilman, scored a slim upset victory in the GOP primary for the town’s mayoral race, besting former Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, who ran with the party’s official endorsement, and Daniel Roderick an outspoken freshman council member.

The race was marked by particularly cantankerous rhetoric particularly regarding candidate’s attitudes and actions regarding development, a subject closely linked to the influx of Orthodox Jews who have become an increasing presence in some of Tom River’s northern neighborhoods in recent years.

After the results were announced, Mr. Hill expressed a desire to move beyond the divisive campaign and to unite his party ahead of elections.

“The real winner was Toms River,” he said. “I want the Republican party to come together and mend fences.”

The race was the first to be held after to resignation of long-time Republican boss, George Gilmore, who stepped down following several convictions of tax evasion related crimes and some feel Mr. Hill’s win is a precursor to an era of less centralized political control in the county. Another significant factor in Mr. Hill’s victory was that strong support and turnout from the Orthodox community likely played a significant role in his being chosen to be the candidate.

Heather Barone, who lost an independent bid for a seat of the council drew negative attention to the community’s support in an on-line statement.

“Thank you to all who actually voted,” Barone said. “Not a chance we had against the money Mo Hill had and team from the Orthodox vote and money. So you got what you voted for, goodbye Toms River!”

Once all votes were tallied, Mr. Hill polled 3,057, Mr. Coronato 2,546, and Mr. Roderick 1,836.

Mr. Roderick was elected in 2017 as a Democrat as part of a slate from the party to relied on tactics that were widely seen as stirring up animosity against the Orthodox community. After his election to the council, he re-registered as a Republican.

The town’s mayor’s office has been held since 2007 by Mayor Thomas Kelaher who did not seek another term.

Mr. Hill, 71, is a retired Rear Admiral who left the service in 2005 after 35 years in the Navy. Since then he maintained a dental practice, but recently closed his office. He has served four terms on the council and is currently its president.

In the general election he will face off against Democrat, Jonathan Petro who after clearing an unopposed primary run spoke of his priorities in the coming match.

“I know Toms River is on the wrong track because of overdevelopment and irresponsible over taxation, all on my opponent’s watch,” he said.

Following his loss, Mr. Coronato also called for Republicans to mend fences and unite behind Mr. Hill.

“Now it’s time to set aside our differences, come together as a party and ensure that Republican leadership continues to guide Toms River into the future,” he said.

Researchers Present Plan for Consensus Building in Lakewood

A team formed of representative of two organizations specializing in mediation and consensus building have issued a report analyzing tensions surrounding the growth of the greater Lakewood community as well as suggesting future approaches to increase harmony.

“We believe there are highly synergistic interests in engaging in collaborative problem-solving in Lakewood and its surrounding communities,” said the report in part. “All residents of the region have much to gain from improved relationships, reduced tensions, and hostilities, and greater cooperation for sharing neighborhoods and civic space.”

The study was commissioned by the Lakewood Neighbors, a group formed to build bridges between various populations within the town and to promote more a more positive perception of the area. it was carried out by the Consensus Building Institute, a non-profit organization, specializing in negotiation and dispute resolution and the National Charrette Institute, another non-profit affiliated with the Michigan State University focusing on facilitation and mediation on public issues.

Researchers interviewed 90 residents, mostly public figures who are either themselves members of the Orthodox community or who work closely with it.

Recommendations focus on the development of various programs that will help those in the community work together toward common solutions for shared problems.

Rep. Smith Honored by ADL

Rep. Chris Smith was presented the Anti-Defamation League’s highest award for his work on Congress’ Task Force for Combatting Anti-Semitism together with the committee’s other seven co-chairs.

“Combating anti-Semitism is a fundamental part of all basic human rights standards and international protocols,” said Rep. Smith. “Regrettably, I have to tell you, anti-Semitism is getting worse. The statistics clearly show a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the Middle East, in Europe, and all over the world. So we need to raise our voices, and pass legislation that will put wholly an end to it.”

The ADL created its Democratic Legacy Award 50 years ago to honor “those precious few individuals who have helped make our nation a place where freedom, equality and democracy are cherished rights forever.” It was presented at the organization’s recent National Leadership Summit held in Washington DC.

Past recipients include former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman; as well as Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Justice Earl Warren, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissinger.

Other co-chairs honored were Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

ADL’s CEP, Jonathan Greenblatt praised the task force for its bi-partisan effort to combat anti-Semitism.

“The House of Representative’s Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, which ADL has partnered closely with for years, is a model of how to come together to address this age-old scourge of hate. We heartily commend these eight bipartisan Co-Chairs, extend our gratitude to all members of this Task Force in the House, encourage those Representatives who aren’t part of it to join, and urge the Senate to consider creating a similar task force amongst its members.”