Editor’s Note: Many of the candidates did NOT submit a photo to Jersey Shore Online for this story.
BERKELEY – Eight candidates are seeking four, four year terms on the Township Council in November.
The township is split into four wards. Each ward has a council member representing them. Each candidate was emailed a list of questions about their history and strengths.
In Ward 1, Republican Councilman James Byrnes is being challenged by Democrat Alexis Loftus.
In Ward 2, Republican Councilman Angelo Guadagno is being challenged by Democrat Patrick O’Keefe.
In Ward 3, Republican Councilman Michael Signorile is being challenged by Democrat Andrew Prudente.
In Ward 4, Republican Councilwoman Sophia Gingrich is being challenged by Democrat Thomas White, Jr.
Byrnes is a lifelong resident of Bayville whose children and grandchildren graduated from Central Regional. A medic in Vietnam with the 82nd Airborne, he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
He is now retired. When he was the facilities director for Freehold Regional High School District, he was in charge of the maintenance and grounds of the six high schools and the district’s administration building.
He’s been on council for nine years, four as its president. He spent six years on the Berkeley Board of Education and he’s also been on the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.
He is a member of VFW Post 9503, St. Barnabas Knights of Columbus 8603, Trustee of the Berkeley Republican Club, former member of the Berkeley Township Taxpayers Coalition and former volunteer for Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity.
The most important things in town are keeping taxes stable and bringing in smart economic growth where ratables should be, while preserving open space from development, he said.
“We have worked with property owners along the Route 9 corridor to bring in new businesses. Although the pandemic has caused businesses to close, we have opened new businesses and will continue to work with property owners,” he said.
Byrnes continues to fight for a fair school funding formula. State aid should be distributed based on enrollment, and each district should get the same amount of aid per child, he said.
“As the Ward 1 councilman, that is predominantly the maritime area, we have made significant improvements in cleaning up our neighborhoods and improving the infrastructure damaged by Sandy. We have more work to do and we are committed to finishing the job,” he said.
Loftus did not submit statements by press time.
Guadagno is a teacher in the Berkeley Township School District. He’s been the Ward 2 Councilman for eight years.
“I am currently a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Italian American Club, and the BTES PTA. I was very active in our youth sports programs when my kids were younger,” he said. “I was a volunteer coach for Little League, girls softball, and Berkeley basketball.”
“One of the biggest issues facing our town is attracting businesses to Berkeley. The Mayor, the Town Council, and the Berkeley Township Economic Development Commission are working together aggressively to increase our commercial ratable base along the Route 9 corridor. We have made great steps forward over the last few years, but we have more work to do,” he said.
“Our strong and resilient community continues to rebuild after Sandy. We have very few homes left in our township that need to be renovated since Sandy. Despite the initial ratable loss from Sandy, we continue to keep our taxes stable,” he said. “Due to the hard work of our Mayor and Town Council, Berkeley Township has the 2nd LOWEST average overall property taxes in Ocean County according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Local Government Division. In fact, the average property tax bill in Berkeley Township is less than half of the amount of the statewide average.
“One of the things I am also proud of is our commitment to improve our infrastructure. We have paved numerous roads, improved drainage, and improved township parks,” he said.
O’Keefe is a lifetime resident of Bayville, “with my 4th child on the way. Two are old enough to be in the elementary school system, the third is still too young for our preschool program.”
“I own a smaller turnkey cardiac imaging solutions company servicing cardiologists in Ocean County,” he said. He has been an assistant coach to his sons’ tee ball team.
“I think our major issues in town are a single party representation, vacant commercial properties on Route 9, the unanimous agreement in all decisions for example raising non-voting contracts from $17,000 to $40,000, salary increases,” he said.
Signorile has been active member of Holiday City South for the past eight years. Since 2020, he’s been on council and he’s been the president of the Senior Coalition of Berkeley Township.
“I believe that it’s important to ensure that people in our communities receive the best representation with open lines of communication to those that represent them. My hope is to continue representing the people of Holiday City South, the Senior Coalition of Berkeley Township and Ward 3, as well as the best interest of Berkeley Township,” he said. “I believe the best way to accomplish this is with the Amato Team and the programs that have provided us a township with an excellent tax base, exceptional services, a great bond rating and a team that continues to strive for excellence in government.”
Signorile is retired, but had several careers, including a police officer in Ramsey, a banker, and manager of corporate security. His professional associations include International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), New Jersey Security Association, and PBAs. He’s also a 3rd Degree Honorary Life Member of the Knights of Columbus, and is involved with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and Blue Knights, Chapter XI.
Prudente is a retired engineer. He expects to use this experience to plan projects to come in on time and under budget. He has volunteered for the American Red Cross and the Loyal Order of Elks.
“Development of vacant and abandoned lots needs to be addressed without creating any more traffic congestion on Rt. 9. The way to avoid that congestion is to not place any more jughandle turns. Use the traffic circle instead so that traffic keeps moving. The jughandles cause you to wait for three traffic lights before you can proceed. It’s not a good way. The traffic circle requires less maintenance and does not need a traffic cop when the lights go out,” he said.
“We need to form a committee to study ways of controlling the deer herds that is not cruel to animals. We currently allow hunting with bows and arrows which is cruel because the animal gets wounded and runs until he dies,” he said.
Neither candidate provided information by deadline.