Three Run for Two Seats on Barnegat Light Council

Reynolds, Foley, Svelling Seek Three-Year Terms
Oct 25, 2017
Supplied Photo

This fall’s Nov. 7 general election in Barnegat Light is contested. Two three-year seats on Barnegat Light Borough Council are sought by three candidates.

Incumbent Republican Dottie Reynolds is running on a ticket of “Experienced and Accomplished” with Mary Ellen Foley, a planning board member. Running as an Independent is Eric Svelling, a lifelong resident who in 2014 lost a bid for mayor as Kirk Larson won a sixth term.

Reynolds and Foley summarized in a letter to taxpayers, “We want to be your voice to continue to keep Barnegat Light a quaint village with the character, affordability and the quality of life that we know and love. With our business, professional and public service experience, we will work to support our community.”

Svelling, a commercial fisherman and owner of three fishing vessels, had also run for council in 2016, coming 31 votes short in the race that re-elected two incumbents. He said he is running in 2017 at the request of supporters. He is doing very little to no campaigning, he said, instead relying on word of mouth and personal visitations.

Below, in alphabetical order, are the candidate’s profiles submitted in response to a SandPaper request for this article.

Mary Ellen Foley is president and owner of Demag Solutions LLC, which provides demagnetizing products and services to the oil and gas industry, both domestically and abroad.

Foley “brings new and exciting professional engineering and entrepreneurial perspectives,” said the Republican candidates’ joint letter. She runs as a “successful business owner” experienced in “executive leadership and strategic planning.”

Foley was appointed to the Barnegat Light Planning Board in 2013 and was elected its vice chairman in 2016. She serves on the board’s special subcommittee to expedite simple subdivisions.

In other community involvement, she is a current member and past vice president of the Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary. She also volunteers time with the borough recreational committee, beach restoration and the Terrapin Turtle Project.

Foley and her family have lived in Barnegat Light since 1974; she has been a full-time resident since 2010.

“I have fond memories of spending our summers taking advantage of all that Barnegat Light has to offer: beautiful beaches, sailing, fishing, playing softball, and working at local businesses like Andy’s, White’s and the Islanders’ Store,” she said.

Graduating with an electrical engineering degree from Bucknell University, Foley served on three different alumni boards of directors for Bucknell: the College of Engineering, the university, and the Association of the Arts – and chaired a council on volunteerism.

Her business career began working for Hewlett Packard and grew into consulting for small and mid-sized companies before running her own company.

“I support all efforts to keep Barnegat Light as one of the premier towns on the Jersey Shore: preserving our beaches, providing recreation for all ages, maintaining the appropriate planning for our town, and supporting both the recreational and commercial fishing industries,” she said.

“With your vote, my goal is to help Barnegat Light continue to be the family-oriented community that it is for years to come. My goal is that my expertise in innovation, entrepreneurship, strategy, and fiscal management will be an asset to the council, so I respectfully ask for your vote.”

Dottie Reynolds has had years of successful experience on council, the candidates’ letter states. “For the past 22 years I have continually looked for ways to improve the quality of life for residents of all ages, at an affordable cost,” she said. “The decisions made by the mayor and the council are instrumental in determining the future of our town. The council spends your money and we need to spend it wisely.”

As a council member and chairperson of its Beaches and Parks Committee, Reynolds lists the following accomplishments:

  • revamped borough boat slip rental process from an annual auction to a rental, allowing a consistent income for the town, and to the advantage of Barnegat Light boat owners;
  • proposed the dog park, free for Barnegat Light homeowners, which produced $7,500 in revenue from nonresidents this year, and supports a ballfield adjacent to the dog park;
  • originated “Welcome to Our Beach” walkways, allowing the town’s vital dunes to build while providing easier beach access;
  • created the seashore landscaping at the borough hall with support from the Garden Club of Long Beach Island;
  • established Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter (SOCAS); and is a founding member and current president of the Friends of SOCAS;
  • instituted the Trap, Neuter, Return program, humanely reducing the borough’s feral cat population.

“The quiet charm, abundance of vegetation and beautiful beaches first attracted us to Barnegat Light,”  Reynolds said. “We purchased our summer home in 1973, which became our permanent residence with my husband, DeWitt, and son Scott in 1986.

“My desire to maintain our welcoming small town, and natural atmosphere prompted me to become a councilwoman.

“As an active member of the Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Company Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Long Beach Island Garden Club, St. Peter’s at the Light Episcopal Church, and as founder and president of the Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter, I am actively involved with public service to the community.

“A graduate of Bucknell University with a biology degree, my interests lie in maintaining the ecological balance in Barnegat Light and keeping a place for nature and open space in our surroundings,” Reynolds said.

“Barnegat Light is a special and unique community on the Jersey shore.  With your vote I would like to continue my efforts as councilwoman to keep it that way.”

Eric Svelling. “I am running because I am being urged to do so from supporters,” said Svelling.

“I am a third-generation lifelong resident, 30-year business owner, 22-year taxpayer. I have a unique historical connection to Barnegat Light,” he said.

As qualifications, he has also pointed to his work ethic and decision-making amid the uncertainties and dangers of making a living by commercial fishing. He helped build his fishing boat Native Son, and also owns the Edge Runner and Sea Beast, operating from Lighthouse Marina.

“I have been interested in politics all my life. My dad was on town council when I was in second-grade, and I have always been interested in the entire process.

“As a concerned citizen I have had over 20 letters to the editor published in local and state papers. I am independent and have wholeheartedly campaigned in several elections,” added Svelling, who had also sought office in 2001 at the time he owned a boat livery business.

Among the issues of his platform is term limitation. He supports term limits for mayor and council – four terms for mayor, five terms for council.

Another cause has been establishing an emergency water evacuation route. “After Superstorm Sandy I proposed having an evacuation route by water to Forked River from Barnegat Light,” Svelling said.

He pledges to keep pushing to make beaches free of illegal fireworks, a matter that he addressed by writing letters to local and state agencies, which got replies.

Svelling also said he thinks the ordinance banning parking along Central Avenue should have been written differently, possibly instead stating no overnight parking.

“I am very unhappy; I have written letters to every council person and never got a response,” he said, adding that he would be “more active in dialogue” as a council person.

Two other suggestions relate to tourism: “Barnegat Light could do a better job at promoting itself as a bird watching attraction,” Svelling said; and “there should be at least one public bathroom at the south end of town.”

He donated a surf boat to the Barnegat Light Beach Patrol to honor the memory of his father, commercial fisherman George Svelling. He has a teenage daughter, Hannah, and his mother is a longtime resident of Barnegat Light, he added.

— Maria Scandale

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