Five Candidates Contending for Three Open Seats on Beach Haven Council
Incumbent Beach Haven Council members Charles Maschal and Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis joined three other contenders — Ralph Skorge, Dan Allen and Tom Lynch — vying for the three seats on the council during a “Meet the Candidates” forum held at the firehouse Saturday morning.
The event, hosted by the local taxpayers association, gave residents a chance to ask questions and get familiar with the candidates, who are looking to lead Beach Haven into the future. Concerns raised by the public ranged from the revitalization of the business and maritime districts, the viability of the Beach Haven School and the vision for the new borough hall and the Surflight Theatre complex to flooding, beach replenishment and tax issues.
Maschal has been a council member since 2010, when the local government changed from a three-member board of commissioners to a five-member borough council. He served as council’s first mayor and was also mayor when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012.
He moved to the borough in 1974, and his two children attended the Beach Haven School and Southern Regional School District. He managed an executive search firm and recruited high-level executives from 1968 to 2002, and also founded the National Association of Executive Recruiters.
Maschal served on the board of the U.S. Optimist Dinghy Association and was the executive director from 2002 to 2008. In 2000 he received the U.S. Sailing John H. Gardner Jr. Service Award. He also created the U.S. Optimist national team, of which more than 20 sailors have participated in the Olympics.
Taggart Davis is the current mayor of Beach Haven and has served on council for six years. Though she noted Saturday that there’s much she does on council that she’s proud of, she mentioned just a few of the major achievements she’s helped accomplish in town. She reminded the public that she was there during Sandy, working with the town and state to help repair Beach Haven, which, she noted, suffered the most damage on LBI. She’s also helped get beach replenishment off the ground and finished, and has been instrumental with dune planting as well as ongoing efforts with the state’s Council on Affordable Housing.
Skorge has been a local homeowner for about 20 years and a full-time resident with his wife for six years, during which time he said they’ve faced “Sandy, water meters, flooding and rising taxes.”
“And that’s why I’m sitting up here today,” he told the public on Saturday.
Skorge believes his collaborating and listening skills, which he acquired through his past experience as managing partner and creative director of Leach+Skorge, one of the largest healthcare advertising agencies in the world, will allow him to better develop people’s ideas to help further the town.
“I believe I can pull the council together and work as a team player,” he said, noting that he is also very fiscally conscious, “like any other businessman would be.”
Allen, the son of former town Commissioner George Allen, has been a local resident since he was 15 years old.
Going forward post-Sandy, he said, council needs to shift its focus back to making decisions “based on what we really need, not what we want.” He suggested slowing down spending and being more mindful about rising taxes.
He is the only candidate still working in and raising his family in Beach Haven.
“These two facts alone force me to make decisions based on the fact that I want to be able to afford to continue to live here and hopefully give my kids the chance to live here as well,” he stated.
Lynch has more than 40 years of experience in business management at companies such as Automatic Data Processing and General Telephone. For the past 20 years he’s acted as vice president of BDP International, where he retired in 2012. He’s been a local taxpayer with his wife for 20 years and a full-time resident for six years. He’s currently serving his sixth year as a member of the land use board and has worked as a beach badge checker the past three summers.
“I vote here, I pay taxes here and I live here,” he said, noting decreasing “unnecessary spending” and taxes are of paramount importance to him. “I am a business professional, not a politician.”
Lynch also ran for council in 2014.
Current Councilman Robert Keeler’s term ends this year, though he has decided not to rerun. Council President Jim White and Councilman Don Kakstis will be up for re-election in 2018.
Members are elected to council on an at-large basis in nonpartisan elections, with either two or three seats up for vote in even-numbered years as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle.
During a reorganization meeting in January, one member will be selected as mayor and another as council president, each serving one-year terms in those positions.
— Kelley Anne Essinger