BEACHWOOD – A candidate is mounting a write-in campaign to unseat a long-serving mayor.
Ron Roma has been mayor for eight years, and was a councilman for eight years before that. Although newcomer Glen Kelly isn’t officially challenging Roma on the primary, he has been urging followers to write him in as a candidate in the Republican primary election.
Both candidates were asked to provide statements for this article.
Roma discussed how he and his family have been involved in so many of the community’s events for the last few decades, including such things as church events, scouts, and Little League.
One of his earliest accomplishments is helping re-establish the Beachwood Municipal Alliance through a grant. This happened in 2001 before he was even in office.
The municipal alliance, in turn, has created many of the events that the borough residents have come to enjoy, such as Summer Family Fun Nights at the Birch and Surf Park; the Beach Luau and Fair (which has become Community Day at the Birch & Surf Park); youth dances; and the Senior Health Ease Move and Grove.
It has also provided funding to such things as the Summer Peer Leadership Program, Bear Cubs/Guiding Good Choices in Beachwood Elementary School, and a Life Skills Program for the middle school.
“Beachwood has always supported the intermediate school with a School Resource Officer. When I was asked to consider a police officer in the Beachwood Elementary School I didn’t hesitate and I made sure it got done,” he said.
The Beachwood Mayors Wellness Program was started in 2014, created to educate people on lifestyle choices to promote lifelong health.
“I truly care about Beachwood and I have always been available to meet or speak with anyone,” he said. “I can be reached anytime day or night. My cell phone number and email are listed in the borough calendar as well as online. I always answer or return phone calls, text messages and emails and I never make false promises.”
Roma is a certified public manager, who worked for the Department of Juvenile Services for 17 years and has been the Director of Security for Ocean County for the past 13 years.
“Children and family have been one of my biggest priorities,” he said. “So, while planning and building the new Mayo Park Building I specifically added an exterior movie wall so the Recreation Commission could present Movies in the Park. Family Movie Night was something that the Municipal Alliance and Recreation started over 15 years ago when we did movies on the beach and in the school.”
Roma said that, with the support of the Borough Council, he’s been able to oversee needed infrastructure improvements while “maintaining the lowest tax increases in Ocean County over the last 20 years.
“When I was first elected to office I implemented a 10-year road plan. This plan is continuously being updated as needs arise. Over the years many road, water and drainage projects have been completed. These projects take time and money. Of course there are still many areas that need attention. There is no magic wand that will fix everything overnight. I know I can’t please everyone all the time but I never make empty promises. These are real results,” he said.
The road projects have redone nearly 40,000 linear feet or about 7.5 miles of roadway in the last seven years, with 7,330 linear feet or 1.39 miles scheduled for 2019, 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, activities and events that make Beachwood a great place to live and raise a family going on year after year,” he said.
Kelly, a real estate agent, is going to be running as an independent, and refers to himself as a “Republicrat.” He has been asking residents to write him in for the primary election.
“I’m running for mayor because it’s time for a change in Beachwood,” he said. “I have lived in Beachwood for some time now, for all of Roma’s two terms, and see that we still have the same problems as before he was mayor. We still have roads in need of repair. We still have serious drainage issues on the roadways. We still have dirty drinking water. We still have a dangerously polluted beach,” he said.
“I also see a serious divide in town. It’s us, the hard-working people, and them, and what they represent is everything that is wrong with our political system. They not only stand for nepotism, they actively practice it. The volunteer commissions and boards in the borough are not representative of the great people of our community, but rather a group of friends appointing other friends. I stand for inclusion. When I’m mayor everyone who wants to volunteer will be included,” he said.
“I believe in planning for a better Beachwood, not hoping things will magically get better. There needs to be comprehensive plans addressing the roads, the drainage issues, the filthy potable water and the polluted beach,” he said. “There have been no real plans put forth to address the issues yet he wants four more years as our mayor, our Chief Executive Officer. I want four years to implement proper planning, to address the severe issues, and to improve our, all the residents, daily quality of life. I’m not saying mayor Roma planned to fail, what I am saying is that he failed to plan.” There are also two council positions on the ballot. Current Councilmen Gerald LaCrosse and Edward Zakar are running in the primary and in November.