TOMS RIVER – Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari has withdrawn his name for consideration for the governor’s race this year. He urged that whoever does get the nod should faithfully serve Ocean County residents and not just look to them as a pack of votes.
Vicari is the longest-serving Commissioner (formerly called Freeholder) in the state, and had formerly been mayor and committeeman in Toms River, and superintendent of Berkeley Township Schools.
He had been on a short list of candidates to be screened by the Ocean County Republican Club for their endorsement. If he had won, he would have had the party line on the November ballot. The Toms River Republican Club had already backed him.
“I make this decision after careful and thoughtful discussions with my family. I also want to devote my full-time efforts to serving the residents of Ocean County, who overwhelmingly supported my re-election as Freeholder last November,” Vicari said.
He promised that he would support the gubernatorial candidate that is endorsed by the Ocean County Republican Screening Committee on February 6.
“My reasons for entering the governor’s race was based entirely on helping our local residents. Ocean County’s political support is critical to any Republican candidate running for governor. By entering the race, I wanted to draw attention to the special needs and concerns of our citizens. Too often in the past I have seen candidates for statewide office come to Ocean County “for the votes.” I want to make it clear to anyone seeking our county’s support, that our “votes” come from our people. People with real and critical concerns. Senior citizens, veterans and young families that need help from Trenton. I hope my brief endeavor into state politics has focused attention on our needs here in Ocean County,” he said.
Indeed, after Chris Christie had won his first term as governor, he came to Ocean County, thanking voters here and stating that he couldn’t have done it without them.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues on the Ocean County Board of Commissioners and the encouragement I have received from local mayors, other elected officials and friends,” Vicari said. “My success in more than 40 years of public service has been based in part on the tone and theme of my campaigns, which have always centered on facts and issues and never on personal attacks, unlike so many of the political contests we see today. Had I chosen to continue my quest for the governor’s office, I can assure everyone that this campaign would have taken the high road. As a life-long educator, I hope this can be a lesson to everyone, from either party, who decides to seek public office.”
This was not the first time Vicari had considered a run for this office. At least one other time he had put out feelers to gauge his candidacy going back at least 15 years.