MANCHESTER – Attorney Rory Wells informed his local Manchester Regular Republican Club and close supporters that he intends to run for the seat being vacated by Ocean County 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.
“My candidacy will represent a number of interests including military service, law enforcement, diversity, and representation on the Board from towns along the Route 70 corridor such as Manchester, Lakewood, Lakehurst, and Brick Township,” Wells said. As for diversity, he noted that he is African American and his wife Lisset is Puerto Rican. If elected, Wells would also be the youngest member of the Commissioners at 51.
Prior to going into private practice in 2018, Wells served nearly 13 years as an Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor. Part of this position included community outreach. Wells has spoken to thousands of people, including law enforcement, community groups, churches, educators, and young people addressing the opiate epidemic and anti-gang violence with juveniles. Wells’ duties with the Prosecutor’s Office also included being the primary criminal law instructor at the Ocean County Police Academy.
Locally, he sits on the Manchester Township Planning Board, Open Space Advisory Committee, and the Manchester Township Environmental Commission.
Wells said he graduated magna cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NY, with a degree in Government/Public Administration before going on to serve as a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He earned his Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, VA. Wells and his wife have one daughter and are members of First Assembly of God Church in Toms River.
County Republican Chairman Frank Holman said that four or five people have expressed interest, 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 and Berkeley Councilman John Bacchione have also made their intentions known to run for the spot.