This year, the entire New Jersey Legislature will be up for re-election, along with many down-ballot races throughout the state.
Although most races around the state and Ocean County will not be competitive, there is one local race which has garnered the attention of many political observers and can have many ramifications for the Orthodox Jewish community – the race for mayor of Toms River Township.
Incumbent Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill is seeking a second four-year term but is facing a tough fight for the Republican nomination from two challengers, Councilman Daniel Rodrick and Geri Ambrosio, the former president of the Toms River Regular Republican Club.
Ambrosio also works in the Berkeley Township Tax Assessor’s Office.
With so much at stake, including Shuls and Eruvin, and with at least one candidate openly running as the “anti-development” (read: Jews) vote, Askanim in Toms River are urging every single person of legal age to make sure they are registered to vote so they can vote in the June primary.
“As we saw in the last mayoral general election, which Mayor Hill won by just 243 votes out of more than 22,500 cast, every single vote can and does make a difference,” Booky Kaluszyner of the Toms River JCC, said.
In the 2019 Republican primary for mayor, Hill also beat out two other candidates – including Rodrick – by just 536 votes.
In a statement announcing his candidacy, Rodrick, a longtime foe of Hill, specifically mentioned houses of worship as one of his campaign issues.
“Toms River is in big trouble,” Rodrick said. “Taxes are out of control, and high-density, multifamily development continues to reshape our town. As homes are converted into houses of worship, quiet residential neighborhoods are being transformed into busy commercial streets. These changes are having a disastrous impact on taxes, traffic, quality of life, and our schools.”
For her part, Ambrosio noted that while Hill is “not a bad person, he is not a leader.”
On the Democrat side, former Township Committeeman John Furey and Paul Williams are running for mayor.
The deadline for voters to register for the June 6 primary is May 16, while the deadline to apply for a mail ballot is May 30.
While I like what I read about this Mo person, I also think that the situation of development in the area is spinning out of control. People have lost their lives to the traffic situation and nobody wants Lakewood population density to spread into Jackson, Brick, Howell or Toms River. At what point do you say no?
I agree with everything you said. Sometimes we have to rethink and understand the needs of others. This overpopulation has gotten out of control. It made what was quite areas into a city like atmosphere. We’re suppose to enjoy God’s green earth, not destroy it.
Rabbi – I appreciate your concerns and this is one of the major concerns that the majority of non-Orthodox have about the overdevelopment and infrastructure collapse that occurs wherever the Orthodox set up their communities. I respect that your communities want to remain very insular and have a specific religious infrastructure that is needed. You are not obligated to interact with the larger secular world, but we cannot forget that Jews and non-Jews share the same Earth and its resources.
It seems that your Rabbinical leadership, rebbes, developers, and advocacy organizations do not seem to realize that environmental and natural resources and infrastructure still need to be shared with the larger humanity. Our Earth, that Hashem has created for all of humanity (Jews and non-Jews) has limited natural resources that we all need to safeguard. I wish for your community to have better foresight into this as you seek to establish yourselves in NJ and beyond.
As someone who has moved from Lakewood to Toms River, I can assure you that evreybody wants open space and is strongly oppesed to overdevelopment. What is at issue here is a campaign focused on stunting the growth of the orthdox population regardless of overdevlopment concerns…
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