BRICK – Michael Thulen, Sr., who spent 12 years as a member of the Township Council, announced his candidacy to be a County Commissioner to take the place of retiring Commissioner Gerry Little.
Little, 72, of Surf City, was appointed in 2003 to fill the term of the late Freeholder James Mancini. Prior to this he served on local boards and worked in a Congressional office. He announced late last year that he will not seek re-election in 2021.
Freeholder was a term for the five elected officials who oversee county operations. State law changed this title to “commissioner” for 2021.
All five County Commissioners are Republican. That party always endorses the incumbent during election time. This November, there will have to be a new name on the ballot. Local Republicans have been putting their names in the running to earn the party line endorsement.
“I have resided in Ocean County for 36 years now, relocating with my family from northern New Jersey in 1984. The primary reason I moved into this county was the same as for many other Ocean County residents who opted for a safer and healthier environment to raise a family, where jobs were readily available, shopping and malls were easily accessible, taxes were affordable, and the school systems were committed to stellar educational practices,” he said. “This is a great county!”
During his time on the council, he said he worked to monitor residents’ taxes, roadways, and safety. The council at the time was Republican-controlled, and proactive to local businesses and economic growth.
“My beliefs drew me to the Republican Party on account of their always seeming to be the right party to handle the important, everyday, and “hard-line’ issues that Americans face. This party has been the foundation of my political aspirations primarily because it encompassed the very same ideals that I learned at a young age in Upstate New York. You can succeed by working hard, overcoming adversity, being self-reliant, setting goals, and following through. That said, I am also just as equally passionate for bi-partisan politics especially in the wake of our most recent political climate. Now is a time for politicians to close this obvious divide, to put personal agendas aside, and truly serve their constituents in an honest and respectful manner for the benefit of everyone. I know I can and will serve Republican constituents, as equally as I will serve Democratic constituents in our county because it is right for the county, state, and country. I will reach across the aisle for the benefit of all of the residents that I will serve. I will operate an open book, open door campaign, and hopefully, Commissioner term where Democrats can be as comfortable bringing before me their concerns and issues as Republicans will; and all voters will get the attention and action from me that they deserve,” he said.
His goals, if elected, are to take care of seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. Public safety, open space, infrastructure, economic development, traffic, transportation, public health and the preservation and maintenance of parks, libraries, forests and buildings are essential.
“One quick example of my public service project experience is the Brick Township acquisition of the Traders Cove Marina property where an opportunity existed for the municipality to purchase, clean it up, and remove the public eyesore that it was and repurpose it as a township marina and recreation area. There are other such opportunities along our rights-of-way adjacent to the Barnegat Bay that are ripe for proper development and viable use,” he said.
He said he worked with the State Board of Public Utilities to communicate with county officials across the state to help them solve energy conservation issues. A capital energy project will save taxpayers millions of dollars over the next 15 years. He said there is a possibility of wind farms for the county that would save energy costs and create decades worth of high-skilled jobs.
County Republican Chairman Frank Holman said that four or five people have expressed interest in the county spot, but they won’t know who the serious candidates are until January 16, the deadline to send resumes. The screening committee will interview candidates on February 6. As of press time, Little Egg Harbor Mayor Barbara Jo Crea, former assistant prosecutor Rory Wells, and Berkeley Councilman John Bacchione have also made their intentions known to run for the spot.