BEACHWOOD – New programs – and how to pay for them – were discussed by mayoral candidates in this upcoming election.
Incumbent Republican Ron Roma is being challenged by independent Glen Kelly for a four-year term as mayor. Roma is running with Councilmen Gerald LaCrosse and Edward Zakar. Kelly’s slate is made up of council candidates Sheila Burke-Jaccoud and Todd Dexter.
In June, Kelly had mounted a write-in campaign in the primary against Roma but lost. No Democrats are on the ballot in the local election.
Each mayoral candidate was asked about what they do for a living and how they give back to the community. They were also asked to talk about what they want to do for Beachwood’s future. The incumbent presented first.
Ron Roma, the incumbent Republican, has been mayor for eight years, and was on the council for eight years before that.
“Throughout my tenure I have served on the finance committee and one of the things I am most proud of is that Beachwood has had the lowest tax increases in Ocean County over the last 20 years,” he said.
Roma is a Certified Public Manager with 30 years experience in public administration. He has been the Director of Security for Ocean County for the past 13 years and worked previously for the Department of Juvenile Services (the Juvenile Detention Center) for 17 years.
He and his wife Geralynn have lived in town for more than 30 years, raising four sons here. One bought a home in town and is raising their first grandchild here.
“My family and I have been involved and/or supportive of all our town events for over 25 years,” she said.
Even before he was elected to office, he said he has been laying the groundwork for a number of programs. In 2001, he reestablished the Beachwood Municipal Alliance through a grant and instituted dozens of programs aimed at substance abuse prevention and awareness. Other volunteer work for the last few decades include Beachwood Recreation, Beachwood/Pine Beach Little League and Pine Beach Basketball coaching, Columbus Day Parade committee, being a scout leader and starting the Beachwood Mayors Wellness Program.
“I was a former coordinator and teacher in the Ocean County RAISE program (Reasonable Alternative to Incarceration through Self-Esteem) which is a court ordered program that supervises youth and provides support and activities in the following areas: educational, vocational, work readiness, substance abuse, and life skills,” he said. “I continuously work with all three high schools, middle schools and both the Beachwood and Pine Beach elementary schools on various programs and assemblies.”
He is a member of St. Barnabas Church in Bayville.
Roma’s Plan For Beachwood
“We will be building a new modern and more efficient water treatment plant and we are currently in the early planning stages of possibly building a solar farm on top of the old landfill on Pinewald Road. These two projects will have a significant positive impact on our community in a variety of ways including significant energy cost savings.
“Along with all the programs and things that we offer to our community, I have continually focused on our roads and infrastructure,” he said. “While this is an extremely daunting process, with the unwavering support of our council I have been able make a significant impact on our roads, drainage, water and while maintaining the lowest tax increases in Ocean County over the last 20 years.
“There is no pie in the sky dream in the new projects we are currently planning in Beachwood,” he said. “If I am re-elected mayor, I promise to continue with the work I have done and I will continue to do my best to keep the programs, activates and events that make Beachwood a great place to live and raise a family going on year after year,” he said.
Glen Kelly is the Broker of Record of Glen Kelly Real Estate LLC, overseeing and micromanaging 50 professional, licensed realtors.
“I am also the President of Eternal Tranquilities Dreams Come True Charity Program, a non-paid position, that incorporates itself into my real estate company yearly to help give back to our local community via fundraising for local charities, supporting hospital programs, and helping raise money and awareness for hundreds of notable causes. Having engaged with giant celebrities from the WWE, TNA, UFC, SWF, etc., all geared towards helping children stay drug free and discussing anti-bullying,” he said.
“I started the first ever Ocean County Chamber of Commerce with several other local small businesses. It is an IRS fully approved 501(c)(6) organization dedicated to giving small business a voice for free, as opposed to other larger chambers in New Jersey that charge large sums of money for yearly memberships. This financial impact hinders and disables the local, small business owner,” he said.
He serves on the Ocean County’s Workforce Development Board, but he has not held an elected position, but he does not see that as a negative thing.
“In my experience, holding public office prior has no impact on making positive change. My research shows we had two governors with no public office prior to being elected, etc.,” he said. “I believe it is the will of the candidate and what they wish to do for the community – if elected – (that) should be of the utmost importance. Team Kelly is running salary free and has nothing to personally gain besides bettering our borough. As for myself and my team, we truly, dearly want positive change to help build a better Beachwood.”
“I am currently the president of the OCCC and went into politics this year to actually become a public servant and make real, positive change,” he said.
Kelly’s Plan For Beachwood
“The biggest issue in your little borough is our infrastructure and our little beach,” he said. “There are roads in our borough that are in horrible condition with terrible drainage issues…This has been an ongoing issue for years upon years. I live in Beachwood and also run my business from Beachwood, and for the last 15 years all I have seen is pothole bandages. The potholes are so large many residents are complaining about their car tires needing to be replaced. We cannot just pave the roads, we need a comprehensive plan to fix the water lines, install drainage pits, etc., before simply paving. The drainage issue and water run off issue clearly needs a new plan.
“I intend to establish the first ever coalition of neighboring communities to band together in a coordinated effort to affect the pollution that comes from the water run-off from Route 9 and goes directly into the Beachwood Beach. This is also a major concern for Beachwood and our surrounding communities. I believe once I take office I will be able to form this pact with our neighbors and meet with the DEP and EPA and even get the governor involved. Never has this been done prior, and I think it just might be what we need to finally limit and or control the pollution that constantly closes our beach and has become a health threat to our residents,” he said.
“Over the past several months my team and I have been speaking to hundreds of borough residents, from teenagers to senior citizens, all voicing the same concerns. Basically, Beachwood does not have much in store for them,” he said. “There are no activities for all age groups. The seniors in my little borough complain that they need more senior programs and I think that should be essential to help build a better Beachwood. The youngsters in town without question need more programs. The current programs in place we can keep, but we need to expand them exponentially to make real change. The municipal alliance is not being used to capture the best results.
“As a NJ licensed professional registered nurse, I can tell you without a doubt that the municipal alliance can do so much more to help prevent and educate our kids on alcohol and drugs. Ocean County being a spotlight for drugs, the municipal alliance can be enhanced to truly impact positive change,” he said.
He also said that the borough needs a small dog park and a small spray park, and will find ways to have them be privately funded so taxes won’t pay for them.
“I also want to make it perfectly clear that Team Kelly, all three of us, are running for positive change and donating our salary back into the community each year. This extra money will make it even more beneficial towards creating and enhancing new programs,” he said. “I would also like to put in place term limits for mayor and council. There are some people on council that have been in that position for over 30 years.”
There are two, three-year council seats on the ballot this year. Each council candidate was asked to list their most recent employment and experience in serving the community. They are being presented incumbents first, in alphabetical order.
Gerald LaCrosse ran der Wunder Wiener hot dog stand from 1984 to 2018 until a driver “decided to turn my hotdog stand into a drive-thru restaurant.” Since then, he’s been undergoing physical therapy to reopen the restaurant with Beverly, his wife of 54 years.
He has was first elected to the council in 1986. He’s also served on the local Planning Board, Recreation Commission, Office of Emergency management and the Land Use Board.
He has been a Little League coach and has “the distinct privilege” to be made an honorary member of the Beachwood Volunteer Fire Company.
Republican incumbent Edward Zakar retired in January after 45 years with Six Flags. He retired as the department head of Safety, Health, Environmental, and Risk Management.
He is rounding out his ninth year as a councilman, with three years as president. He also notes that he had 14 years with the borough’s land use board, serving as its chairman for six of those years. He has also been the fund commissioner for the Joint Insurance Fund for eight years.
“I belong to and have worked alongside many organizations in our town,” including Beachwood Municipal Alliance, Environmental Commission, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Volunteer Fire and First Aid Departments, and Little League.
Independent challenger Sheila Burke-Jaccoud has worked in the Ocean County Clerk’s office since 1989. Currently, she is the Supervisor of the Ocean County Deed Room-Miscellaneous Records Room. She listed other positions she had, feeling that they would all contribute to her position on council: she had also worked as a clerk in the map room as well as the Deed Room; was a shop Steward for OPEIU local 32 Union, and a President position with the Ocean County Federal Credit Union.
On the volunteer front, she has been involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for nine years, holding positions like fundraising committee member, Secretary and currently the Committee Chair. “I loved being involved with this organization and loved that our Troop and Pack gives back to our community,” she said.
Independent challenger Todd Dexter is an Investigations Manager with a multi-national retailer. His training involves being a Certified Forensic Interview and Certified Expert in Cyber Investigations. “I specialize in eCommerce, integrity and organized retail crime investigations as well as fraud detection and site security,” he said. He is also a partner in Intrepid Systems LLC, which specializes in the installation of surveillance cameras and smart home devices in residential, commercial and industrial environments.
He and his wife have provided “dream cakes” to terminally and critically ill children as part of Icing Smiles. Along those lines, they have worked with the Go Bo Foundation and Operation Cookie Takeover to provide cookies to children fighting cancer and soldiers stationed both domestically and overseas. He has also volunteered for the Beachwood Recreation events.