Pezzullo will seek GOP Senate nod

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Richard Pezzullo, a local businessman who operates a computer consulting firm and has been active in public issues for 15 years, announced last week that he will be entering the Republican primary election for state Senate in the 12th District. He is challenging incumbent state Senate Co-President John O. Bennett III of Little Silver. The state’s 12th Legislative District includes part of Monmouth County and two communities in Mercer County.

In a press release, Pezzullo, the married father of three children, said, "Thanks to John Bennett’s leadership, it’s too expensive for our parents to live here and our kids want to leave. John Bennett has brought us the most expensive auto insurance rates in the country and now we have a state where thousands of people cannot get insurance at any price.

"In the course of John Bennett’s tenure, we’ve seen insurance premiums for health care go through the roof and now under his leadership we have a state where doctors cannot afford to practice medicine. We have watched as our state debt increased in eye-popping amounts in the last few years … John Bennett is a tax and spend special­ist and the time has come for a change," the candidate said. Pezzullo said he began his 15 years of public advocacy fighting the proposed in­crease in Garden State Parkway tolls from 25 cents to 50 cents in 1987. The increase eventually went to 35 cents. As a candidate for governor, he earned the endorsement of Leslie Hyatt’s auto insurance reform movement, according to the press release.

He said he also fought gas tax increases, called for more accountability in school budgeting, resisted the $2.75 billion bond debt that was invested in the stock market and worked to stop the proposed Newark sports arena. Describing himself as "pro-life and pro-family," Pezzullo said he is also active in the parental notification and school choice movements.

Pezzullo said that as a senator, he will vote to confirm "only those judges who will apply the law and not make up their own law as they go along. It’s one thing to have a legislator making laws that you don’t agree with; you can always vote them out of office. But what are we going to do if we don’t reverse the trend of ap­pointing judicial activists that insist on in­flicting their will on us and our children?"

Pezzullo received a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University in 1980 and spent 20 years in the U.S. Army re­serve, attaining the rank of major. He lives in Freehold Township with his wife, Pam, and three children.