Tuckerton Will Choose Mayor, Two Council Members

Two Incumbents, Three Newcomers in Campaign
By PAT JOHNSON | Oct 05, 2018
Photo by: Supplied Tuckerton Borough will vote for Mayor and one Council member.

Tuckerton’s form of government allows for a direct election of a mayor. Mayor Sue Marshall, the Republican incumbent, is banking on her record to return her to office for four more years.

She is challenged by Independent candidate Paula Bell, a newcomer to Tuckerton politics.

There are also two three-year seats open on the borough council. Councilwoman Doris Mathisen has decided to not run for re-election. Republican Councilman Ron Peterson is vying for another term, and is joined on the Republican ticket by newcomer Frank D’Amore. One challenger has stepped up to the plate, Independent Skip Deckman.

Bell and Deckman are running together on the “Serving the People” ballot line.

Mayoral Election

Paula Bell has lived in Tuckerton Beach since 2003 and bought her home in 2016. She is engaged to Little Egg Harbor Township Committeeman David Schlick, and has two adult children from her previous marriage. She works with the Rutgers School of Social Work’s Grow NJ Kids initiative, for which she travels all over the state to train teachers in the program curriculum and assessments. Her undergraduate degree is in political science from Fairleigh Dickensen University. She has a master’s in liberal arts from Monmouth University and a Learning by Design Education and Leadership degree from Thomas Edison State College.

She is president of the Rotary Club of Great Bay, a member of the Tuckerton Beach Association and a block captain in her community. She also serves on the Great Bay Regional Municipal Alliance Committee.

“This is my first time running for political office but not my first time in a leadership position,” she said following a recent Rotary Club meeting at Dynasty Diner in town. “It’s always been a part of me. Even as a young child, if there was a concern or an issue, I would step up to help fix it. I was president of my sorority in college and was chosen to go to Leadership of New Jersey – they took two people from each college – for a week of intense skill building, politics and health care.

“I’ve visited many areas of the state for various issues, but it just never unfolded into politics until now. Now that my kids are adults, I have more time to dedicate myself to it.

“In January I left the Republican party because at this point of my life, it’s not about parties. It’s about just doing the job. I used to vote down the party line, but when I saw the politicians not producing what they promised – well, I’m much older and seasoned now; just do the job and work toward the same goal.”

Bell also provided a written statement: “I am running because I believe Tuckerton can be a thriving shore town where small businesses will come to plant their roots, where families vacation year after year and where active adults will look to retire.

“I believe how this can be achieved is by establishing transparency, restoring the faith in our local government and building our community.

“I believe what needs to happen is rehabilitate and revitalize our downtown, bring in more (property tax) ratables to our town and ensure that our waterways are navigable.

“Tuckerton is the pearl of the Jersey shore. It’s classic, timeless and beautiful, and we need to restore its luster.”

Mayor Sue Marshall is ready to serve Tuckerton for four more years, she said after the Oct. 1 Tuckerton Borough Council meeting.

She is a lifelong shore resident who grew up in Ship Bottom and then moved to Tuckerton with her husband, Bill, 29 years ago. The couple has two married sons and four grandchildren.

Marshall is a graduate of Southern Regional High School. She obtained her teaching degree from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). As a young woman she moved around the country with her husband during his career in the Coast Guard.

“I taught in Virginia, Washington state, and on Governor’s Island in New York. For 5½ years I taught in Beach Haven Elementary, and then taught for 22 years in Tuckerton Elementary. I have my master’s degree in the Art of Teaching.”

Marshall is a member of the Eastern Star, the Degree of Pocahontas, Rotary Club of Great Bay, Zonta, the Tuckerton Seaport, the Tuckerton Historical Society, the Citizens Emergency Response Team and the local fire police. She is president of the Tuckerton Library Association. She also is a member of the Sand and Pines Garden Club.

“I’ve enjoyed being mayor, and I’m looking forward to four more years. I think things have run fairly smoothly and we’ve made a lot of progress. I’m looking to the future to keep Tuckerton growing.”

In a prepared statement for her “Working for Tuckerton 2018” team, she and council candidates Peterson and D’Amore state, “Our top priority as members of the Tuckerton Borough Council is to enhance the quality of life and sense of community that makes our town so wonderful.”

Marshall and Peterson then list the accomplishments made during their tenures: consolidation and moving of borough support staff offices, police department and municipal court to the new Tuckerton Borough Complex; the design, planning and opening of South Green Street Park; completion of the Greater Tuckerton Food Pantry; replacing water and sewer services and repaving five roads in Tuckerton Beach; completion of various walkways and handicapped crossing up-grades; and repainting and refurbishing the water tower.

“Most of these projects were paid for with grant funding, meaning very few of your tax dollars were spent.

“All three of us realize that we have more to do for Tuckerton Borough. We will be focused on the dredging of our lagoons and Thompson Creek; continuing to hold the cap on taxes; bringing more local business to town by working on Main Street parking; completion of the three remaining road infrastructure projects: Second Avenue, Curlew and Kingfisher Roads. These challenges are our top priority and we will continue to keep these issues very visible moving forward.”

Marshall also mentioned the Seaport Village plaza, which has become “a big plus, economically,” and the water taxi service between Tuckerton Seaport and Beach Haven that will begin in earnest next spring.

“The concerts at the Lizzy Rose (Music Room) also bring people to town from all over, and then they stay and have dinner at a restaurant.”

Establishment of a Historic Preservation Commission will also keep Tuckerton’s heritage and history alive for future generations, she said. “I’m so pleased to see that happen. It will open up grant opportunities, and our town will continue to be beautiful.”

Borough Council Election

Frank D’Amore is the newcomer to the campaign trail, but he said he has “wanted to do this for a long time.”

D’Amore shares a neighborhood with the Marshalls and considers them friends. D’Amore and his wife moved to Tuckerton 34 years ago and raised their two sons there. Both went through the Tuckerton and Pinelands Regional school districts; now one is a lawyer and the other is a high school teacher.

D’Amore owned a refrigerator and electrical business for 18 years, and is now semi-retired. “I still work, but I do small jobs, nothing too big.

“The reason I wanted to do this (council campaign) is I want to be involved with this great group of people that are doing a great job. I see what they have accomplished. And as a business owner and a contractor, I think I can help run the town.

“When you have a business, you have to make decisions, and I have a background in that. I used to be a supervisor in a large refrigeration company.”

D'Amore said he is a proud U.S. Air Force Veteran, and attained the rank of sergeant. “While serving I mastered the electrical and HVAC trades.” His favorite deployment was working at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, keeping the ICBM missiles cold. “You had to keep the fuel at a steady temperature or they would blow up.” He worked there for 3½ years.

“I can’t wait to get in there (on council) and help with the dredging projects. It’s a construction job, and I think I can be a real asset.”

“Having a strong connection to Tuckerton I understand the concerns and needs of our community and business owners. If elected I will put forth my best effort to be an honest, competent voice for all our residents."

Skip Deckman is a longtime resident of Tuckerton. This is his second run for borough council. He has been married 46 years and has two adult children and two grandchildren. He graduated from high school in Wyomissing, Pa. He moved to Tuckerton in 1978.

He is semi-retired, but he and his wife make crab traps for sale, and claim the distinction of being the largest crab trap manufacturing business in the state. He often gives demonstrations at the Tuckerton Seaport, where he is a lifetime member. Seasonally, he is a professional Santa Claus (you may have met him at some local events). He is also a hunting and safety instructor for the NJDEP Fish and Wildlife Division. “I also teach archery in the schools,” he said.

Deckman is a past president of the Sunshine Foundation, a nonprofit make-a-wish foundation for ailing local children and their families.

Deckman said he is running for councilman because “I think Tuckerton can be better than it is. They (mayor and council) work for us. I want to represent the people; I don’t go by party lines. And I want the government to be more transparent.”

Deckman said he wants to know how much debt Tuckerton has before it goes bonding for more projects. “I want to know what we are looking at. If the borough is getting 27 percent of every tax dollar, well, that’s more than a quarter of our taxes go right to this little borough. They don’t look at the road. They’ll walk right past a penny, they’ll walk right past 85 cents, because they see a dollar up ahead. And then when the dollar is jerked away from them, they’ll go back for the 85 cents and it’s gone, because someone else picked it up.

“As far as transparency, when I asked the mayor what they plan on doing with the (former) town hall, she said they haven’t discussed it, ‘We don’t know.’ They had two years to plan for it, and then they say, ‘We’re not talking.’

“They think we’re beneath them, as if (they) don’t have to answer (our) questions.

“I’m vocal; I talk to people. People ask me to ask about things because they know I’ll stand up and ask, ‘Hey, what about …?’ “I communicate with people. Sometimes they may not like what I say. I’ll give you my opinion, but I can be swayed if there is evidence to the contrary.

“I have never heard a council person disagree up there. They don’t discuss anything up front, and they already know the answer.”

Deckman also believes the borough does selective enforcement, such as on signs and other things.

“They have an ordinance on the books that says ‘no moving signs,’ yet Stewart’s (Root Beer drive-in restaurant) has had that mannequin moving the sign all around.

“Then they penalized Dave Schlick and Todd Nugent for having their (Little Egg Harbor Township Committee election) political signs out before the date. If I’m elected, I’ll get rid of selective enforcement.”

Ron Peterson and his wife, Christine, have lived in Tuckerton Beach for 25 years. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. He has retired from his own business that he ran for 36 years, and now works part time as the equipment manager for Sea Oaks Country Club and Golf Course. He is a member of the Citizens Emergency Response Team and the local fire police, and remembers vividly Superstorm Sandy six years ago and the devastation it wrought on the Tuckerton Beach area, including his own home.

“I remember working four-hour shifts as a member of the fire police, keeping people from getting on the (Tuckerton) Beach for a week while the utilities were shut off. Our police wore black and hid in the woods to keep looters from trying to get down there. They (looters) also came by boat, so we had the (state) marine police and the Coast Guard patrolling.”

Like so many others in Tuckerton Beach, Peterson lived on the second floor while he repaired his first floor, and then had to move out as the house was raised.

He is a veteran and member of the American Legion Post 493, past president of the Tuckerton Beach Association, served on the Tuckerton planning board, volunteers at the food pantry and is a trustee for the Great Atlantic Cancer Fund.

His happiest accomplishment during this last term on council was in repairing and enhancing the South Green Street Park. “I wanted a boat ramp, but the (state) DEP wouldn’t go for it, so they put in the fishing pier. I think it was a good trade-off.

“We are keeping it closed at night to protect the park. And though some people might have been upset, so far I’ve not heard any complaints.

“People come from all over to use that park. We want to keep the beautiful job that it is.”

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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