Craig, Kelly win Sea Bright seats

Six-member council

to be evenly split between Democrats, GOP


Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — When Councilman-elect Clark W. Craig joins the Borough Council in January, he doesn’t expect to make any waves, figuratively speaking.

However, Craig and fellow Republican running mate Brian Kelly, who won their first three-year council terms on Nov. 2, are determined to try to prevent Mother Nature from sending the actual waves that literally flood Sea Bright’s streets during inclement weather.

Craig, 56, and Kelly, 36, will take their seats on the council in January, replacing two Independent incumbents, councilmen Andrew Mencinsky and Charles Galloway, who both chose not to seek re-election.

The Republican victors won election over Democrat Cori Socher by 115 votes according to figures released last week by the Monmouth County Board of Elections. Those figures do not include absentee or provisional ballots.

Kelly lead the trio of candidates with 520 votes followed by Craig with 506 votes. Socher brought up the rear with 391 votes.

In 2005, the six-member council will be evenly split with three Republicans and three Democrats each sitting on the dais. Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams is also a Republican.

In addition to finding solutions to prevent flooding, Craig and Kelly, both local business owners, plan to push for the upgrading of municipally-owned structures and lands. Both are also eager to fight for residents who believe they are being overcharged to send the town’s public high school students to the Shore Regional High School District.

Sea Bright, one of four municipalities that sends to the high school, is presently paying more than $50,000 for each student attending the campus in West Long Branch, borough officials have said.

Many taxpayers believe they are not being charged their fair share of the Shore Regional bill based on how many of the borough’s children actually attend the high school.

“Sea Bright’s issues with [Shore Regional] are the most pressing issues that anyone could do anything with,” Craig said.

The current Borough Council is expected to hire Morristown attorney Vito Gagliardi as special counsel in the financial and legal battle with the Shore Regional district at a cost of up to $25,000. The resolution to hire Gagliardi is on hold until the council meets this coming Tuesday night.

Kelly agrees that the high school tax-

ation needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

“I look forward to working with [Gagliardi] on this,” he said.

Living and operating his business, Sea Bright Solar, in the center of town, Kelly acknowledges that flooding is one of the drawbacks of residing and working in a town situated between the ocean and a river.

Still, he believes that with financial assistance and guidance from the federal government, practical solutions can be found to prevent rising waters.

Raising the streets in low-lying areas and replacing or increasing the height of bulkheads near the Shrewsbury River might work, but the Army Corps of Engineers study will probably offer the best solutions, Kelly said.

“There isn’t any quick fix to the problem,” he said.

With the study in hand, the borough can seek federal funding to implement the recommendations made by the Army Corps, Kelly added.

A lack of available parking in Sea Bright’s downtown could hamper the success of the growing business district, said Clark owner and operator of Industrial Marine Fabricators located in the borough.

“There is just so little parking for what we have, especially in the summer,” Clark said.

Parking woes and other municipal infrastructure concerns might be resolved in part by tapping into a $25,000 Smart Growth grant that was recently received by the borough from the state, Clark suggested.

The state money is intended to pay for a Smart Growth study to determine the best use of municipal structures and lands including parking areas, Kelly explained.

With any luck, the results of the Smart Growth study will be delivered soon after the councilmen-elect take office.

“The results of the Smart Growth study are expected over the winter,” Kelly said.

The feasibility of constructing and operating a municipal swimming club will also be looked at in the Smart Growth study, Kelly noted.

Clark believes he and Kelly will probably unearth some new issues as they begin their terms. Once in office though, Clark will be looking to simply “fit in.”

“There aren’t any major changes I’m going to try to execute,” he said.

Currently, a member of the town’s combined Planning/Zoning Board, Craig is aiming for a smooth transition into his new role as councilman.

“I try to help out around town. That’s the reason I ran for council,” said Craig, a 20-year borough resident.

A volunteer for both the local first aid squad and fire department, Clark seeks to help the borough retain its one-of-a-kind character.

“I’m not going to make a lot of waves. I’d like to continue to have Sea Bright be Sea Bright,” he said. “It’s a very unique town and we like it that way.”

Kelly, a five-year resident and newcomer to politics, is eager to begin serving the town.