Berkeley Councilman Seeks Assembly Seat

James Byrnes (Campaign Photo)

  BERKELEY – Longtime official James Byrnes has put his name in to represent the 9th District in the state assembly, hoping to bring a new voice to state politics.

  Byrnes is a retired facilities director for a school district in Monmouth County. He served on the Berkeley Board of Education and was appointed to the Township Council in 2012. He’s on the board of social services. In the past, he was screened for the 3rd District Congressional seat.

  “I’ve always been an Ocean County guy. I went to Ocean County College,” he said.

  “I really like what I’m doing in Berkeley,” he said. There are a lot of projects he’s been involved with. For example, he’s been working on the dog park on .9 acres of vacant land on Butler Boulevard. There’s another where the Holly Park residents want a park built on the end of Main Street.

  These two projects both had roadblocks from the State Department of Environmental Protection. Byrnes said he’s hoping to fight for local municipalities against overbearing state mandates.

  Byrnes said he’s going to go before the screening committee up against other Republicans, including Lacey Committeemen Mark Dykoff and Timothy McDonald, Stafford Mayor Gregory Myhre, and Barnegat Committeeman John Novak. In a previous article, these four challengers were profiled; Byrnes was unable to be reached. As of this writing, Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove has not said publicly if she is running for re-election.

  Each State district has one member of the senate and two in the assembly. Senator Christopher Connors said he will not run for re-election. The 9th District’s other assembly member, Brian Rumpf, has said that he is looking forward to serving beside Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato who is the frontrunner for the senate seat.

  Ocean County Republican Chair George R. Gilmore said those who have turned in letters of intention would be scheduled to meet with the screening committee on February 11. Recommendations then go to Ocean County GOP elected committee people who will vote on their selection at the mini-convention scheduled for March 8. Following that is the primary election in June to see which Republican winds up on the ballot in November.

  The 9th District is made up of the following areas: Barnegat, Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Beachwood, Berkeley, Eagleswood, Harvey Cedars, Lacey, Lakehurst, Little Egg Harbor, Long Beach, Manchester, Ocean Gate, Ocean Township (Waretown), Pine Beach, Ship Bottom, Stafford, Surf City, and Tuckerton. This legislative district makes laws that govern the state, as opposed to the two senators from New Jersey who make laws for the nation.

  In the wake of Amato’s possible move to Trenton, longtime political ally John Bacchione has announced he will run for mayor of Berkeley this year.