Joe Mangino Enters Stafford Council Race as Mayoral Candidate With ‘Focus on Stafford’ Ticket

By VICTORIA FORD | Aug 29, 2018
Courtesy of: Joe Mangino

Joe Mangino, local business owner, Superstorm Sandy relief advocate, Stafford Township Board of Education member and lifelong Independent voter, announced this week he will run for mayor of Stafford Township as a Democrat this November. He will square off against Gregory Myhre, the Republican candidate who narrowly defeated current Mayor John Spodofora by 84 votes in the June primary election.

“Our campaign is quite simple,” Mangino said. “It’s a people’s campaign,” by which he means it’s one of engaging the public, building relationships and, most important, listening. Overcoming the disadvantage of having not been on the primary ballot is a critical first step.

“Many people falsely believe this ‘MAGA’ Stafford team has already won because they won the primary,” Mangino said of his Republican opponents.

Mangino’s team and volunteers are ready and eager to cover every inch of Stafford, from Warren Grove to Mud City, Cedar Bonnet Island and Beach Haven West to Ocean Acres, “letting the voters know we are here and why we are the best choice for Stafford Township.”

Mangino has long been active in the Stafford community. He co-founded START (Stafford Teachers and Residents Together), an organization of local residents who came together after Sandy to provide direct assistance to residents whose homes had been damaged. A commemorative START wall hanging, made of wood planks found among storm wreckage, painted to look like an American flag and signed by community volunteers, has long hung prominently on the wall behind the dais in the municipal meeting room.

“When Stafford residents have struggled, I’ve stepped up to make a difference,” Mangino said, “from gutting houses to helping write legislation to stop foreclosures on Sandy families.”

Mangino is also the president of New Jersey Organizing Project, a citizens group formed to protect the rights of Sandy victims. For his work in the community, Mangino was named the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Humanitarian of the Year in 2013. He was elected to the school board in November 2016, for a three-year term that started in January 2017, so if he wins the municipal race in November, he will have to resign from the school board, since New Jersey prohibits holding two elected positions simultaneously.

In a word, “togetherness” is what prompted Mangino to run for mayor.

“This community is known for its ability to come together when needed, and that’s what makes Stafford Township a special place,” he said. “It can be anything from disaster relief, or supporting a neighbor who is battling an illness, to raising over $600,000 for Southern’s scholarship night. Continuing to bring this community together is what I’m passionate about.”

He had not foreseen his community involvement taking this turn, he admitted, but after the primary, many people approached him and urged him to run for office. “They wanted a candidate with a record of getting things done,” he said.

“There is a lot going right in Stafford, and we don’t want to screw that up. We will, however, dissect the budget and look for ways to lower taxes and make Stafford more affordable, especially for our fixed-income seniors. Supporting both our small and large businesses is important, and making Stafford attractive to new business is a priority. Being a coastal community, mitigating the risks of future storms and the effects of sea level rise and climate change are also important issues to us.”

As a voter, Mangino said, his decision-making process has always been based on supporting the person he thought best for the job. “I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats,” he said. This weekend, he officially changed his political affiliation from unaffiliated to Democrat – simply by filling out a new voter registration form and checking a box – in order to “put the best people in the position of putting Stafford first.”

Campaigning “won’t really be a big change for me, just a change in focus,” Mangino said. “I’ll still be at the community events and fundraisers, still coaching on the sidelines, still volunteering and riding my bike all over town. It’s just now I’ll be carrying a stack of campaign cards, talking about community needs, and asking you to vote for column B.

“If I use buzzwords like ‘transparency’ and ‘fiscal responsibility,’ do you know what that even means?” Mangino asked. “Simply put, my town council will be more accessible to all of our taxpayers. We plan on improving residents’ access to township information by expanding our social media outreach, making improvements to our website and hosting more community listening sessions.”

Brian White, a candidate for council on the Mangino slate, said, “I know Joe is the right person to lead Stafford; he’s spent the last 10 years helping people in Stafford, and he will make a great mayor.”

White, the previous Democratic candidate for mayor, decided to run for council instead, so Mangino is filling that vacancy. Also running for council on the Mangino team are Joanne Sitek, Nicole Downs, Kevin Teeple, Denise Pobicki and Chris Marzullo.

“I’m amazed at how quickly we bonded as a team,” Mangino said. “I was nervous at first, being the new guy to the group and then being placed at the top of the ticket. It didn’t take long for me to become really comfortable working with them. They are just as focused as I am. The diversity of our ticket, three women and four men, and our different backgrounds and professional experiences are making for great conversations relating to the issues impacting Stafford Township.”

— Victoria Ford

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.