2003-09-26 / Front Page

Sea Bright’s Harquail not running for 2nd full term

Councilman Andrew Mencinsky has replaced mayor on Nov. 4 ballot
BY SHERRY CONOHAN
Staff Writer

Councilman Andrew Mencinsky has replaced mayor on Nov. 4 ballot

BY SHERRY CONOHAN

Staff Writer

Sea Bright Mayor Gregory W. Harquail will not be seeking re-election, but the borough will not be without a race for mayor.

Councilman Andrew Mencinsky has stepped up to ensure that Republican Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams has an opponent on the Nov. 4 ballot. As was Harquail, he is running as an independent.

After a bit of post-primary confusion, Kalaka-Adams is officially the Republican Party’s candidate for mayor.

The realignment in the race for mayor was precipitated by Harquail’s decision to withdraw as a candidate because, he said, the increased demands of his personal business ventures would not leave him enough time to do a proper job. He formally pulled out of the race on Sept. 5, the deadline for independents to take their name off the ballot, according to Bertha Sumick, the county clerk of elections.

Mencinsky filed as a candidate on Sept. 11, the deadline for a replacement for Harquail as an independent to be put on the ballot, Sumick said. Mencinsky, who was elected to the council two years ago, said he entered the race — after consulting with his family — upon learning of Harquail’s withdrawal.

Harquail promptly endorsed Mencinsky to be his successor.

Kalaka-Adams said after the primary election, in which she received one write-in vote for the Republican nomination for mayor, that she would consider running for the office. Her one vote was below the three-vote minimum for her to accept the nomination on her own, but Marianne McKenzie, the Sea Bright municipal Republican chairman, said at the time that Kalaka-Adams would be appointed by Monmouth County Republican Chairman William F. Dowd to be the GOP candidate for mayor by the Sept. 17 deadline to do so.

Dowd filed the necessary papers for her to run on Sept. 15, Sumick said.

The Republican line for mayor on the ballot was left vacant, after Borough Clerk MaryAnn M. Smeltzer voided the 31 votes received in the primary by former councilman C. Read Murphy.

The former councilman of 15 years had sent the borough a letter, withdrawing himself as a candidate over questions about his current residency.

Kalaka-Adams, who had been a strong opponent of the "town study" (since abandoned), which was widely regarded as a redevelopment effort, ran unsuccessfully for election to the Borough Council two years ago.

Kalaka-Adams was out of town and unavailable for comment this week.

There will be no Democratic candidate for mayor on the ballot.

Mencinsky, the new face in the field of candidates, said running for mayor was something he had thought about doing in the future.

"But the opportunity came up, and I felt that I’m a much better candidate than the person that’s come forward," he said. "I feel I have more to offer. I have more experience. I’ve been involved with the borough for seven years — two on the council and, before that, on various committees."

Mencinsky said one of his goals, should he win election as mayor, would be to see the town become more unified with the council. He said he believed he had the leadership skills to bring about a more united front on the council.

"I’ve worked very well with ev­eryone on the council, with both Republicans and Democrats, and we’ve gotten a lot of work done to­gether," he said.

Mencinsky said two issues of particular interest to him are the high taxes paid by borough resi­dents to finance the operation of Shore Regional High School, and the current aesthetics of the downtown business district, which he feels could be improved.

"On my watch," he stressed, with regard to the latter, "there would not be any redevelopment plan, or any type of plan, that would involve condemnation."

Mencinsky said the beautifica­tion effort he envisioned would in­volve only borough-owned proper­ties, and suggested that the center­piece of the effort might be ex­panding the municipal complex or building a new one. But he opposed a pending land swap as the means to improve Borough Hall.

Mencinsky noted that the pro­posed land swap with John Mul­heren, owner with his wife Nancy of the Chapel Beach Club, was ne­gotiated before he came on the council. The land swap, now on hold, calls for the borough to give Mulheren one-third of the Penin­sula House parking lot in return for Mulheren giving the borough the Marine/Allied Lumber site and $300,000.

"Although when I first came on the council, I agreed with the land swap, I no longer feel it’s the only or the best solution," Mencinsky said, noting questions that have been raised about the fair market value of the properties.

"Although I do think that ac­quiring a part or all of the Allied property would be in the best in­terest of the borough," he added, "I no longer think that relinquishing the right to the borough property is the right way to do that."

Turning to the inequity he sees in the tax for Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, Mencinsky said he favored pursu­ing a further appeal of Shore Re­gional’s budget for the current school year. After borough voters rejected the tax for Shore Region­al’s $11.1 million budget, the bor­ough asked that $1.3 million be cut from it. The state commissioner of education subsequently ordered that it be reduced by $161,000. The Borough Council voted 3-2 on Sept. 16 against any further appeal, with Mencinsky and the other In­dependent on the council, Coun­cilman Charles Galloway, voting to continue.

Mencinsky said the borough tax for Shore Regional has almost dou­bled in the last five years — from 34.9 cents per $100,000 assessed valuation in 1998, to 68.2 cents this year. He urged a two-pronged ap­proach to solving the problem, with the long-term solution being legis­lation to change how the tax in regional districts is assessed, and the short-term solution being to ap­peal the present tax so as to lower the budget to a more reasonable level.

"This year, the school tax bud­get, which was increased over last year, was voted down … and that gave us the opportunity to fight the budget," he said.

Councilman William J. Keeler, a Republican, and Councilwoman Dina Long, a Democrat, are run­ning unopposed for the two council seats to be filled in the election.


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