Seven Vying for Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners Seats This November
The terms of office for Long Beach Township’s current board of commissioners – Mayor Joseph H. Mancini, Commissioner Ralph H. Bayard and Commissioner Joseph P. Lattanzi – end Dec. 31. All three incumbents are running for reelection this November, and will face four challengers on the ballot: Thomas Beaty, Danielle R. W. Hagler, Gregory Kopenhaver and Donald S. Myers. Those elected this fall will serve four-year terms.
Below is a run-down of the seven contenders, in alphabetical order.
Ralph H. Bayard: Bayard, 81, the commissioner of Public Works and Water/Sewer, has served on the governing body since 2004. The Brant Beach resident is a widower with two children and four grandchildren. Bayard’s family became Island property owners in 1961, and he has lived here full time since his retirement in 1995.
Bayard holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Rutgers University, and was in the military active reserves as a young man. For 35 years he worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb in New York City.
He coached basketball and Little League baseball in Edison, N.J., and was a member of the Edison Board of Education for 15 years. After moving to LBI, he served on the Southern Regional School District’s Strategic Planning Committee, and is a member of the Brant Beach Homeowners Association, the Brant Beach Yacht Club and the township land use board.
When Bayard ran for reelection in 2012, post Superstorm Sandy, he noted, portentously, “I think the township is going to be challenged in the next couple years, and my years of experience can benefit the municipality.” Among the challenges were maintaining and repairing infrastructure after the storm, and making sustainability-minded improvements to town hall and the surrounding community.
In the past few years the township has completed hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy conservation upgrades to the municipal complex, and has improved the department of public works facility – including adding a dome to house road salt and street sweepings, as well as a retaining wall to prevent leaching into the bay – mostly financed by grants.
The upgrades to the municipal buildings – such as HVAC and lighting upgrades and new hurricane windows – in addition to increased recycling have made clear the township’s intentions to look forward by reducing energy consumption, and therefore cutting costs; upping recycling efforts; and resiliency planning to protect for future storms.
Also during his time in office, Bayard pointed out, he has facilitated, along with his fellow commissioners, several miles of infrastructure work to upgrade water and sewer mains throughout the municipality, particularly in High Bar Harbor and Holgate; the creation of an aggressive stormwater management program; and repaving of numerous roads.
The board of commissioners also oversaw, in the past couple of years, the expansion and improvement of facilities at Bayview Park, including partnering with the Where Angels Play Foundation for a new playground. The front of town hall, meanwhile, now features basketball and pickleball courts, a dog park and a gazebo, and the township built new tennis courts near the Acme Market and in North Beach. The south end of Holgate was also improved, and features a new parking lot with restrooms and showers, while Loveladies also has a new parking lot and upgraded restroom facility.
Bayard’s vision for the future comprises more repairs to and replacement of water and sewer mains, an expansion in shared services, keeping municipal taxes low while “keeping services at a high level,” and “continuing to apply for grants to enhance the budget.”
There are always challenges in running a town, be it due to a superstorm or contract renegotiations, “and you want experienced people in there,” said Bayard, “which the current board of commissioners offers.”
Thomas Beaty: Beaty, 53, is a resident of Holgate, where he lives with his wife and young son. As the website votemyershaglerbeaty.com – in support of Beaty, Hagler and Myers – explains, Beaty “fondly recalls his childhood memories vacationing in Holgate in the early 1960s, and has spent his life contributing to the place he has called home for 17 years. Along with his wife Elizabeth, he has worked tirelessly to sustain the quality of life that is so vital to our island community.”
The candidate has served as president of the nonprofit Alliance for a Living Ocean and the LBI PTA, is vice president of the Holgate Taxpayers Association, and currently represents the township on the LBI Consolidated School District Board of Education. Additionally, he was a Superstorm Sandy community organizer and is the founder of the ALO Longboard Classic.
Beaty underscores his love for the community, in combination with an “ability to focus on, and achieve goals” as his primary qualifications for the role of commissioner. “I’ve been involved with many grassroots and mainstream efforts on this Island. … In all those groups, I’ve been able to focus on tasks and get the job done. Everything that I’ve accomplished along the way has been done for the love of my community. I want to do everything that I can to make this town really live up to its potential, to be the best place to raise a family, start a business, or achieve whatever goals you set for yourself.”
As an individual at the helm of an organization, a committee or a municipality, “when you make decisions that affect people, you have to ask, and welcome their input, and use it as a guiding force,” said Beaty. “It’s important that a leader make decisions with the people, not for the people. We have a great community, full of intelligent people with a full breadth of knowledge. We need to incorporate these people into the decision-making process, seek out their opinions, and tie this community together.”
Myers, Hagler and Beaty all emphasized the “access and right to be heard” component of their platform.
Among the issues of most significance to township homeowners, Beaty believes, is flooding. “Flood events are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more regular. We need to take advantage of programs like the New Jersey Resilient Coastal Communities Initiative to help our community build a foundation toward long-term flood preparedness.
“Replenishment is another big issue,” he added. “Being from Holgate, I recognize the need to build and support a dune system to help lessen the impact of coastal storms. However, using the default U.S. Army Corps of Engineers design template has yielded questionable results in some areas, and also raised further concerns.”
As the campaign site notes, “Tom Beaty brings heart into everything he does. Tom understands from his grassroots efforts that being transparent is crucial to sustaining positive change in a small community. ... Tom credits his success in bringing people together and keeping them involved because nothing is more valuable in Long Beach Township then hard work and honesty.”
Danielle R.W. Hagler: Hagler, 31, was born and raised in the Brant Beach section of the township. A graduate of Southern Regional High School and Coastal Carolina University, she also holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“At home in Brant Beach with her husband Steve and their young daughter, she works alongside her father Joe,” reads the candidate’s bio on her campaign website. “Together they run Hagler’s Marina, her family’s business since 1980.”
Hagler is an advocate who serves others through Coastal Volunteers in Medicine and the Rotary Club, and, additionally, sits on the advisory board for the Sutton Trust U.S. Program, US-UK Fulbright Commission scholarship program. Following the completion of her master’s degree, the candidate explained, “I led a state department-supported program through the US-UK Fulbright Commission, helping British students study abroad in the U.S. The program was the first of its kind in the UK, and I was able to bring together multiple stakeholders with their own interests, from the U.S. Embassy to multinational corporations to nonprofits. That’s what serving your community is all about – you have to find common ground among all of the ideas and opinions.”
The most pressing issues for each individual township homeowner, said Hagler, is often specific to his or her exact location and situation, and might include, for example, flooding or beach erosion. “Maybe your neighbor built a house that has now blocked your breeze or view. Perhaps you’re worried about your assessments rising and therefore your taxes going up. Or maybe you like that your assessment has gone up to add value to your investment. Whatever it is, everyone worries about different things, as we are all unique and have unique circumstances.
“It’s when all of these issues are seriously considered that the community improves for the better. This is why I want to ‘bring our community together’ to address all of our concerns and find common ground for all.”
Hagler believes a good leader is able to listen and learn. “Our population is comprised of brilliant residents with diverse needs who deserve to be heard and taken seriously. After all – it’s their community. A great leader works for the people and not against them. (He or she) has no special interests other than serving the people.”
The candidate would like to see more frequent town meetings, and, she pointed out, “the Myers, Hagler and Beaty team will have an open-door policy for the public” if elected.
“I want to bring my skill set acquired from my experiences and apply them to the place I love: my home, LBT. I want to work tirelessly for LBT to bring back the cohesive family community I grew up in to ensure current residents, my daughter, Alice, and the future generations can feel the same sense of community I felt.
“I truly care about this community at my core and bring a unique set of skills to the table. I have traveled the world and returned to the one place I feel can have it all – LBT.”
Greg Kopenhaver: Kopenhaver, who turns 65 on Oct. 1, first ran for township office in 2012. In that election, post-Sandy, Mancini garnered 749 votes, or 26.58 percent; Lattanzi came in at 744 votes, for 26.40 percent; Bayard earned 681 votes, or 24.17 percent; and Kopenhaver was not far behind, with 634 tallies, for 22.50 percent of the total votes cast.
In campaigning that year, Kopenhaver emphasized what he said would be his availability as a commissioner, and his willingness “to always be proactive to get input from as many people as possible.”
To introduce himself to residents prior to the 2012 election, Kopenhaver – a self-funded candidate – personally hand-delivered his campaign pamphlets to every home in the township. This year, he has again been knocking on doors to meet homeowners in the municipality.
Kopenhaver and his wife have resided full-time in Brant Beach for nearly a decade. Together they are parents to two children and grandparents to four. Both their children also own property in the township.
The Kopenhavers’ original link to the Island came through Greg’s father, who retired to LBI. Greg and Trudy, who have been married for 47 years, spent their honeymoon on the Island and visited in summers.
In 1988, Kopenhaver retired from the Philadelphia Police Department. In addition to his career as an officer, he operated a successful contracting business for more than 30 years. Now, he remarked, “I’m basically retired, so this will be my only job (to serve as commissioner, if elected). I will be accessible. That’s important to me.”
As a township resident, Kopenhaver has attended most board of commissioners meetings for the past nine years. He was a member of the LBT Shared Services Committee, and has served on the Brant Beach Townwatch and the board of the Brant Beach Homeowners Association.
In his spare time, Kopenhaver enjoys fishing with his son on their boat. “These trips over the past 25 years have given him a true appreciation of the diversity of our local fisheries and wildlife, as well as just how unique and special our island is to so many people,” the candidate’s campaign brochure states.
If elected, Kopenhaver will aim to open relationships with other Island municipalities “in an effort to share ideas, reduce costs, and improve services for everyone.” He would also like to have one beach badge that would allow access to all the towns’ beaches.
In addition, he would “thoroughly evaluate our current spending to reduce waste and redundancy,” focus on improving the quality of the municipal drinking water and promote a business-friendly environment in the township.
Municipal beautification is also important to the candidate, who wants, for example, to improve the aesthetics of the railroad offsets with trees, benches and lamp posts.
“I am running for commissioner because I truly understand the importance of this island in the lives of its residents and visitors,” Kopenhaver summarized. “The memories that are made here last a lifetime. I would like to make sure these traditions continue while at the same time improving the experience for future generations.”
Joseph P. Lattanzi, M.D.: Lattanzi, 51, serves as commissioner of revenue and finance for the township. He was sworn in as a commissioner in December 2011 following Bill Knarre’s resignation from that role, and was then elected in 2012 to serve a full four-year term.
A radiation oncologist by profession, Lattanzi resides in Haven Beach with his wife and two children. He was named director of radiation oncology at Southern Ocean Medical Center in 1999; he and his family moved to the Island in 2002.
After graduating from Ursinus College, Lattanzi received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his radiation oncology residency at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
He serves on the board of trustees of Meridian Health Systems and as a board member of the Southern Ocean Medical Center Foundation, and is a former president of the medical staff at SOMC. Recently, he has helped oversee the hospital’s new cancer center, which is opening in stages.
In the community, Lattanzi takes part annually in the St. Francis Community Center Thanksgiving Program, and supports the Southern Regional Wrestling Booster Club.
Following his election in 2012, in the aftermath of Sandy, Lattanzi spoke from the hospital, noting, “Efforts to put the township back together following the storm’s wrath are now the top priority.”
Overseeing storm recovery and the finances thereof was not a small feat, said Lattanzi.
“For those of us who were here in the trenches, Long Beach Township took the lead in rebuilding LBI,” noted the commissioner, who, after Sandy, ran his practice but was also at town hall every day. He also brought supplies to residents and met with local business owners as part of the immediate recovery process.
“I’m most proud of the fact that we have done all of this post-Sandy and we have kept taxes extremely low,” Lattanzi remarked. The township, he pointed out, has the second lowest tax rate of all the Island municipalities.
He also pointed out in 2012 that the incumbents planned to “maintain a stable government,” as he again emphasizes will be the case should the trio be reelected in November.
“We strongly favor the commissioner form of government,” he added. The mayor “works tirelessly with the nuts and bolts” of the township, said Lattanzi, and that allows him more time for special projects, such as the free LBI shuttle buses.
The summertime shuttle service, a project Lattanzi actualized in 2013, “reduces the number of cars in the summer; it reduces drunk driving at night; it helps promote businesses … helping people move around and increase commerce; and it will also serve a secondary purpose for emergency management,” he explained previously.
Lattanzi said he is proud of the township’s ability to establish this service, which sees tens of thousands of riders through the summer months.
If reelected, Lattanzi said he will ensure the township continues on the path of fiscal responsibility, and he would like to move toward more consolidation of services to further lower taxes.
Joseph H. Mancini:
Mancini, 66, serves as mayor as well as commissioner of public affairs and public safety. He was first elected in 2008, and reelected in 2012.
He is a son of previous long-time mayor Jim Mancini, who moved his family – which included nine children – to Long Beach Township in 1954, when Joseph was 3 years old.
After graduating from Southern Regional High School, Mancini attended Villanova University. In the early 1970s he returned to the township to work for his father as a builder. He is a licensed real estate broker, property casualty and health insurance broker and builder, and president of both Mancini Realty Co. and Mancini Custom Homes.
A resident of the Beach Haven Terrace section of the township, Mancini is married with one child and two grandchildren.
He serves as treasurer of the Meridian Hospitals Corporation Board of Trustees, which oversees seven hospitals, including Southern Ocean Medical Center. In addition, he is an executive board member and former district chairman of the Jersey Shore Council, Boy Scouts of America; a past president of the Beach Haven Exchange Club; a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish; and a former Little League coach. He also provides annual college scholarships to local students.
Of all his community endeavors, Mancini explained, “What I feel is my crowning achievement is I was chairman of the capital campaign committee for our new Southern Ocean Medical Center Emergency Department. Under my leadership, we raised $8.2 million.”
As mayor, Mancini has supervised construction of and improvements to various parks and open space in the township, including the creation of the Hideaway Cover Maritime Nature Trail, on a protected three-acre parcel of land in Beach Haven Gardens; signed off on major infrastructure projects; and kept taxes low.
Most importantly, he believes, he navigated the municipality through and past Sandy, which involved emergency decision-making during and after the storm, as well as ongoing related projects such as beach replenishment, sustainability upgrades to municipal facilities and collecting remaining owed money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Obviously, our biggest challenge was Hurricane Sandy,” said Mancini of his time in office, “and it was our largest accomplishment getting Long Beach Township back up and running first of the majorly impacted towns.”
Also post-storm, Mancini testified at a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee field hearing regarding the needs of the township and the other LBI municipalities, as they rebuilt following Sandy.
Mancini pushed for funding to complete the federal beachfill project for the entire Island, and voiced concerns about FEMA’s new flood maps, which at the time were developed without any input from local officials or ground observations.
Prior to his election in 2008, Mancini said living in the township for so many years “brings along with it a depth of knowledge of our history, our residents and our customs here.” Now, after living through Sandy as well, the mayor emphasizes the incumbents’ maxim – “Rebuilt. Replenished. Re-elect.” – and asks for voter support “for another four years, so we can finish the job that Sandy thrust on us,” as well as maintaining low taxes and high-quality services.
For more information on Mancini, Bayard and Lattanzi, visit reelectlbt.com and facebook.com/ReelectLBT.
Donald S. Myers: Myers, 68, is a longtime Brant Beach resident, a father of two daughters, and an active member of the community. The candidate, as his ticket’s campaign website states, “has been a fixture in Long Beach Township leadership for almost a half century, giving professional insight and charitable support that helped shape our community for the better.”
He moved to the Island in 1963, at age 15, and graduated from Southern Regional High School and Drexel University. Myers was subsequently employed by the township for 48 years, first for the department of public works, then the beach patrol, which he supervised from 1967 to 2014.
“Under his watch,” the website explains, “the Long Beach Township beach patrol grew to become one of the most recognized and best-managed departments in the country.” Myers also created the first Lifeguard in Training program in the nation, in 1988, and originated the fully donation-funded BeachWheels program four years later.
Myers’ extensive record of volunteerism and community service includes 30 years as the adviser of Southern Regional’s Interact Club – a service club involved in annual local events such as Chowderfest, the LBI Commemorative 18 Mile Run and the Ship Bottom Christmas Parade – as well as his work with the Maxmillian Foundation, a nonprofit focused on strengthening kids in an effort to prevent destructive behavior such as substance abuse.
He has also been a member of the Rotary Club of LBI since 1983, and has served as its president, and he has spent nearly three decades on local school boards, for both the LBI School District and Southern Regional.
“Education was always huge and emphasized in our family,” Myers remarked.
The candidate believes his many years serving the community through many organizations and on many boards has given him a valuable skill set, and developed his decision-making acumen. And, he pointed out, “it shows I’m invested in our community. It gives me the credentials.”
Myers said a leader of LBT should possess knowledge of the municipality and the surrounding environment – he nodded to his familiarity of the township’s many different sections – and, as well, recognize how to delegate, organize well and listen to others. “Listen and learn and get the community involved, and when the time is right, you make a decision,” he stated. A leader also, he noted, “acts as a cheerleader.”
Among that which he feels township homeowners want are transparency in government, solid long-term planning and more shared services. He also is well aware that “we’re in a vulnerable spot,” environmentally and weather-related, and that bayside flooding is a concern for many residents. “What can we do as the climate changes and the sea level rises?”
Myers, Beaty and Hagler would also like to change the form of government to a mayor/council system “for better representation,” as their website states, as well as make town meetings more frequent and accessible, increase audits and accountability for fiscal responsibility, ensure the Master Plan is followed and updated appropriately, and emphasize an open-door policy.
“Don Myers,” the site notes, “promises to bridge the past and present, moving all that is best in Long Beach Township forward.”
More information on Myers, Hagler and Beaty is available at votemyershaglerbeaty.com and facebook.com/BringingOurCommunityTogether.
— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch