Kalaka-Adams cites bipartisan support

Republican nominee for mayor also has support of borough

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — It is a love for the town she has called home for two decades and the prompting of friends in both the Republican and Democratic parties that has prompted Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams to run for mayor.

Kalaka-Adams, the Republican candidate for the borough’s highest office, said she was asked by both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party to seek election as mayor. She said she has the support of the one Republican council member, William J. "Jack" Keeler, and the three Democratic members, Maria Fernandes, William Gelfound and Dina Long.

The other two members of the council are independents.

Fernandes, the council president, has publicly endorsed Kalaka-Adams, saying she was happy to support her in the absence of a Democratic candidate.

The only other candidate for mayor is Councilman Andrew Mencinsky, an independent.

Kalaka-Adams, however, says she has wide support among independents as well.

She received one write-in vote for mayor in the June GOP primary election, which was below the three-vote minimum to accept the party’s nomination, but was picked by Monmouth County Republican Chairman William F. Dowd to be the GOP candidate. He filed the necessary papers Sept. 15 to put her on the ballot to replace another candidate who withdrew.

Mencinsky stepped up to take the place of Mayor Gregory W. Harquail, an independent, on the ballot after Harquail withdrew as a candidate for re-election in early September due to the press of business.

Harquail subsequently endorsed Mencinsky to be mayor.

"I have the support of four council members," Kalaka-Adams said. "When they kept coming and asking me [to run], I took a serious look at it. With the support of that group, how could I go wrong?"

Kalaka-Adams figured prominently in the opposition to the "town study," which was initiated then terminated by the council over the course of a few months last winter in the face of overwhelming objections from residents. But, Kalaka-Adams noted, it was not the notion of a "town study" that brought her and hundreds of other residents out to object to the proposal.

"It was the word ‘redevelopment,’ " she said, which was used by the planners from the firm hired by the borough to conduct the study.

Kalaka-Adams cited what was happening with redevelopment in Long Branch — properties have been condemned and whole blocks leveled — in her arguments against the "town study" here. She said she was alarmed by references to "redevelopment" in discussions here because that carries the possibility of invoking eminent domain, or condemnation.

Asked if she supports the council’s current development of a request for proposals for a planner to suggest the best use of borough-owned properties, Kalaka-Adams indicated she didn’t feel that was necessary.

"I think in Sea Bright, as houses are sold and things are fixed up, things are progressing," she said. "We have a master plan," she added.

Kalaka-Adams said she opposes the borough swapping land with John Mulheren, owner with his wife of the Chapel Beach Club.

The deal would give Mulheren the northernmost one-third of the borough-owned Peninsula House parking lot, which abuts the Chapel Beach Club, in return for the former Marine/Allied Lumber property adjacent to Borough Hall plus $300,000. The deal has been put on hold by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which must approve it.

Kalaka-Adams said she opposed the land swap because Gelfound has "a very good proposal" for a borough swimming pool complex on the oceanfront and she feels the property in the Peninsula House lot will be needed for it.

Kalaka-Adams said she is concerned about taxes, particularly property taxes and taxes for Shore Regional High School, but believes this problem must be addressed on the state level through the borough’s state legislators.

She said she’s already been in touch with Assemblyman Steven Corodemus, R-Monmouth, on the subject.

Kalaka-Adams said she felt the borough had done its job in holding the line on taxes as the $4 million budget for this year did not contain a tax increase.

In fact, she said, she thought the borough was in good hands with the lone Republican and three Democrats on the council.

"I see them as a group that is working very well together," she said, "and as a result of their efforts, things have gone pretty smoothly."