Barnegat Leader

Barnegat Democrats: New Voices Should Be Heard

Oct 20, 2017

Believing that the Barnegat Township Committee needs two-party representation, a pair of Democrats are looking to unseat Republican incumbents Alfonso Cirulli and John Novak for three-year terms in the Nov. 7 election.

Paul Whitcraft, 66, is executive director of Materials Technology Institute, a nonprofit company based in St. Louis. Daniel Ward, 28, is an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry at Ocean County College.

Originally, Ward’s running mate was going to be Marianne Clemente, who is the Democratic municipal chairwoman and vice president. She withdrew to work behind the scenes not only locally, but in two congressional races.

Whitcraft, who moved to town in 2012,  said he got involved with the local Democrat organization due to “concerns about where our country was heading.”

“I asked if there was anything I could do, and people were telling me that I should run for the township committee,”  he said. “After some consideration, I thought I would try for this opening on the ticket.”

Whitcraft said that he and his running mate can offer “new voices to counter the one-party rule.”

“Sometimes fresh ideas need to be heard, and I think that can be great for the town and the taxpayers,” he said. “In talking to people, they are very concerned about over-development and that homeowners can’t continue to afford tax increases.”

Whitcraft used his own tax bill as an example, noting that the year he moved into town, the municipal tax rate (not including schools and county) was 71.8 cents per $100 assessed value.

“The rate in 2016 was 85.4 cents, and now it is 90.1 cents,” he said.

Ward, who has lived in town since 2003, graduated from Southern Regional High School in 2007. That was the last class of Barnegat high school students graduating from Southern.

“It’s time for a change in leadership, one which can be more engaging with the community,” he said. “With  one party completely in charge for the past several years, more diverse views are needed.”

Ward said development needs to be curbed, saying that continued building will raise taxes.

“More building put a strain on the infrastructure and required the town to provide more services, and that will ultimately fall on the taxpayers,” he said.

While he said he was glad that the township put an effort into fixing up Project Playground and the pocket parks, more work needs to be done.

“The pocket parks are really for small children,” said Ward. “They got the skate park  opened, but that’s mostly for teenagers. I’d like to see more programs for adults. It could be art projects, sports or whatever people would like.”

He said the township committee should also go back to conducting workshop meetings, which were held one Friday a month beginning in January 2016, but discontinued six months later. Ward said that during the meetings, the committee would review items going on the next meeting agenda or have topics for general discussion.

“It provided an opportunity for them to be more transparent in dealing with the public,” he said. “My running mate and I feel that there isn’t enough public participation so people might know more about what is going on town.”  

— Eric Englund

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