Barnegat Leader

Democrats Hope to Break GOP Stronghold in Barnegat

Oct 12, 2018
Supplied Photo Daniel Ward (left) and Paul Whitcraft.

Believing that the Barnegat Township Committee needs two-party representation, a pair of Democrats are looking to try again after running last year to win two three-year terms on the five-member all-Republican panel.

Paul Whitcraft, 67, is executive director of Materials Technology Institute, a nonprofit company based in St. Louis. Over his 43-year career in the chemical process industry, he has held various management positions, being responsible for engineering, technical services and corporate safety. His most prominent role was as the director of quality assurance for a specialty steel supplier with multiple domestic and international operations.

Daniel Ward, 29, is an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry at Ocean County College. At the college, he also tutors students with underprivileged backgrounds through the Educational Opportunity Fund. In addition, Ward is a web development and marketing consultant.

Whitcraft, who moved to town in 2012,  said he and his running mate can offer “new voices to counter the one-party rule.”

“Our concerns for Barnegat remain the same as those we had last year at this time,” he said. “Most importantly, we think it is imperative to return to two-party participation in our local government. One-party rule, as it has been for many years in Barnegat, allows the township committee to act in its own interest without regard for what is best for our community. It has led to the appointment of previous committee persons to high-paying township positions or contracts. It has resulted in large bonded projects without public hearings and no input from concerned and capable residents. Control by one party has resulted in the increase of our municipal tax rate of 123 percent in the last 10 years. One-party rule resulted in a 66 percent increase in committee salaries from 2017 to 2018.”

He said that while the township has encouraged extensive growth in retirement communities on Bay Avenue west of the Parkway, it has neglected the downtown area, which he said struggles to support local businesses.

“Increased traffic is already becoming a nuisance on Bay Avenue and at the Parkway entrances,” said Whitcraft. “Uncontrolled development depresses existing home property values and increases demand on services. We need fresh ideas on how to attract businesses and services to Barnegat so that residents can eat, shop and recreate locally instead of having to leave town.”

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.

“Paul and I have been walking around talking to residents over the last two years, and from every corner of town we hear the same complaints,” he said. “We hear ‘We’re tired of our taxes going up, we’re tired of the over-development, we’re tired of not having our voices heard, and it’s time for change.’ Paul and I want to restore confidence in our committee and put the town’s resources back to work for our community.”

Considering they were newcomers in 2017, Whitcraft and Ward were encouraged even though they lost to Republican incumbents Alfonso Cirulli and John J. Novak. Cirulli received 3,394 votes while Novak had 3,333. Ward and Whitcraft received 2,761 and 2,775 votes respectively.

“It was a great experience,” said Ward. “I got to talk to and meet a lot of people. I really feel that our message can get through, and now that we’ve had the experience of running a campaign, hopefully the votes will be in our favor.”

— Eric Englund

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