When Joe Oxley was elected Monmouth County Chairman in June of 2008, by acclamation and with no opposition, he took over a party that had gone through six tumultuous years that left it in debt, fractured and on the verge of losing control of Monmouth County’s government for the first time in two decades.
Four years later, the Monmouth GOP holds all seats on the Freeholder Board, all Constitutional offices, all Legislative seats in the county and the vast majority of municipal offices throughout the county. New Jersey has a Republican Governor who would not have been elected if not for the voter turnout in Monmouth County.
One year prior to taking on the Chairmanship, Oxley made the politically shocking and personally risky decision not to seek a fourth term as Monmouth County Sheriff. Oxley had excelled as Sheriff. He made a national name for himself and for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department. He was one of, if not the most, respected and popular elected officials in Monmouth County. He was risking his career to lay the ground work for taking over the Monmouth GOP Chairmanship a year later in order to save the imploding party from itself.
A hunger for leadership and stability caused the various factions of the party to lay down their arms to acclaim Oxley the Chair without opposition. Leadership, stability and winning is what they got, whether the faction leaders liked it or not. Most often they didn’t as Oxley frustrated almost every party leader, ally or foe, during his two terms with an unorthodox but extremely effective leadership style that had nothing to do with building his personal popularity but everything to do with bringing leadership, stability and victory back to the party. One could easily make an argument that he sacrificed much of his personal popularity for the good of the party.
During his Chairmanship, Oxley earned his living as a municipal attorney. He wasn’t greedy. He didn’t abuse his political power for personal gain. The level of work he took on was modest. He and his new law partners lead the way in reducing legal fees on the county and municipal levels.
As Oxley moves on to the next phase of his professional life he still faces risks resulting from his 2007 decision to give up an office, Sheriff, that was securely his for as long as he wanted it, in order to provide a greater service to the county that he loves. The obviously politically timed release of Solomon Dwek’s 2006 allegations against Oxley, allegations that had been released two years ago, albeit with less detail, will make Oxley’s confirmation as a Superior Court Judge more difficult.
As the Monmouth County Republican Party concludes a heated campaign to choose Oxley’s successor tonight, we should first lay down our arms, as we did in asking him for leadership in 2008, and thank him profoundly for a job well done.