Freeholder Lillian Burry: “They (her opponents) should say what they would do better. Their negative attacks make them look like asses. They are asses!”
The By-Laws instituted by Monmouth Republican Chairman John Bennett as the fulfillment of one of his major campaign promises in 2012 will likely result in one of his most ardent supporters, Freeholder Lillian Burry, being challenged at the 2014 Monmouth Republican Nominating Convention in March.
Howell Councilman Bob Walsh said he will seek a nomination for freeholder when the Republican County Committee convenes next spring. Incumbents Burry and Freeholder Gary Rich both said they will seek the nominations for new terms…Burry’s 4th, Rich’s 2nd…and that they are prepared to fight back Walsh’s challenge.
“Tell him to wait his turn,” Burry said of Walsh’s challenge. “I’m running and I support Gary Rich for another term.”
“I’ve heard the name mentioned as a candidate,” Rich said of Walsh, “but I haven’t heard from him. It is interesting that he would challenge an incumbent like Lillian Burry who has such an exemplary record serving the taxpayers of Monmouth County. Lillian and I both work very hard to improve the county.”
“Freeholders are not elected for life,” Walsh, a former Howell mayor elected as an Independent, said, “my record speaks for itself. Lillian and Gary are both vulnerable. The Democrats are looking to take them out are excited about running against them. I am more electable than either of them and I would be a better freeholder than either of them.”
Walsh said that a Democratic mayor told him at the League of Municipalities Convention last month, “The only thing better for Monmouth County Democrats than Cory Booker on the top of the ticket next year is Burry running for reelection .”
Many politicos, both Republican and Democrat, expect 2014 to be a “good Democratic year” in New Jersey and Monmouth County due to U.S. Senator Cory Booker leading the ticket as he seeks his own full term with no Republican opposition yet to be announced.
Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal has been vocal of his criticism of Burry since he was elected in 2012, even though she has not been on the ballot since being elected to her third term in 2011. Gopal considers Rich, a freshman from a small town, Spring Lake, vulnerable because he does not have a strong base of supporters or demonstrated ability to raise money. Gopal has told several people he wants to “take that guy out,” referring to Rich.
Many Republicans, some of whom are encouraging Walsh’s candidacy, are concerned that the Democrats will gain traction against Burry and Rich over their votes to approve the Andrew Lucas Farm Deal, despite the fact that Democrats have failed in every election, in Manalapan and on the county level, where they have made Lucas’s sale of the development rights to his farm for Open Space Preservation an issue.
Lucas was a Republican member of the Manalapan Township Committee when he acquired Burke Farm and throughout the process of selling the development rights to the government for Open Space. Soon after the sale was completed, Lucas, who was a GOP Freeholder nominee in 2006, announced that he would not seek reelection. In October, Lucas resigned his office just three months before his term was to expire.
Burry relishes the fight and the opportunity to defend her record. “Let them come after me,” Burry said defiantly, “I’m proud of my record over the nine years. The Lucas deal was approved by the Manalapan Township Committee, and the State, in addition to the county. There is no issue here. They should say what they would do better. Their negative attacks make them look like asses. They are asses!”
Rich is just as passionate, if less profane, in defending his record of two years. “I’m proud of what Lillian and I, along with the other freeholders have accomplished for Monmouth County taxpayers since I’ve been here,” he said, ” As the liason to Finance and Administration, we’ve brought our budget in with a ZERO tax increase over the last two years, and we’re working on doing that again in the upcoming budget.” Rich also cited efficiencies he’s spearheaded in the County’s IT department for purchasing and payroll processes, and an ongoing energy savings project.
“I may not be at all of the events and ribbon cuttings, ” Rich said, “but that is not the job. I am putting in 40 hours a week on for this part time job, finding ways to make our government better and saving the taxpayers money.”
Regarding the rap that he doesn’t raise money, Rich said that’s because he’s a team player. “Chairman Bennett said he was going to raise all the money for campaigns and asked office holders not to do so. Others have not complied, but I have, so far. But now that I’m up for reelection next November, I’ve got a fundraiser scheduled for January. We’ll see how I do.”
Under the Monmouth Republican Committee By-Laws adopted in September of 2012 any Republican can challenge the nomination of a County incumbent office holder at the nominating convention if 40 voting members of the County Committee endorse the challenger’s candidacy. No more than one-third of the challenger’s endorsements can come from a single municipality. Incumbent County office holders must present 25 County Committee endorsements to be considered for re-nomination.
Walsh was briefly a candidate for freeholder in 2011 and was a candidate to replace Assemblyman Rob Clifton in the 2012 Title 19 convention that Serena DiMaso won. Bennett, before he became chairman, supported Walsh over DiMaso in the January, 2012 convention battle. Former Red Bank Municipal Republican Chairman Jim Giannell, the Freeholder Maker, supported Walsh against DiMaso in 2012, Rich in his 2011 nomination race and Burry when she was first nominated in 2005.
Walsh said that if he is not nominated at the convention, he will not run in the primary.