Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) has called out a Republican councilman from Toms River for a dog whistle campaign mailer that depicted a fur hat worn by an Orthodox Jew that some view as a bid to blame overdevelopment on the expansion of the Lakewood Orthodox community into Toms River.
“Our community, like communities throughout the country, has seen an unfortunate and disturbing rise in anti-Semitic language and behavior and we have a responsibility to condemn this when we see it,” said Kim. “It is why I strongly condemn the campaign tactics of stoking fear and hate by Daniel Rodrick and Justin Lamb earlier this summer.”
Rodrick won an off-the-line GOP primary in his bid for a second term. His running mate, Justin Lamb, ousted incumbent Maria Maruca for the Republican nomination.
The two made an issue out of a U.S. Department of Justice settlement that forced Toms River to end it’s ten-acre requirement for a new house of worship and reduce it to two.
“I strongly and forcefully reject the use of anti-Semitic language or imagery in our public debate and call on every member of our broad and diverse community to join us in ensuring it has no place in our institution moving forward,” said Kim, a two-term Democrat who represents Toms River.
In March, the Justice Department announced a resolution to an alleged violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that prohibits restrictions on the location of houses of worship.
Rodrick was elected as a Democrat to the Toms River Council in 2017 but switched parties in 2018 after losing a bid for municipal chairman. He lost a 2019 GOP primary for mayor.
Republicans dropped him from their ticket, but he defeated Jason Crispin in the Ward 2 June 8 primary by 430 votes, 58%-42%. Lamb ousted Maruca in Ward 1 by 197 votes, 54%-46%. Two other organization candidates won contested primaries.
“Members of our Jewish community are welcomed here as much as anyone — it is their home too,” Kim said. “We must be unified in the agreement that anti-Semitic language and actions do not belong here and will not be tolerated.”
Kim has emerged as a national leader in the fight against racist tactics following attacks on Asians and Pacific Islanders this year.
Last week, he pushed back on a campaign ad from his own potential challenger, Republican Tricia Flanagan, who said that Kim, the first Asian American to win a congressional seat in New Jersey, was “not one of us.”
“Together, the people of Toms River have worked to make this community a better place to raise a family, start a business and live with dignity,” said Kim. “While we may not always agree on how we achieve these goals, we do agree to pursue our interests by treating each other with respect and to respect our differences.”
Rodrick faces Democrat Jeff Horn in the general election, while Lamb faces off against Michelle Williams, who ran for an at-large council seat two years ago. Horn and Williams are both attorneys.
As part of the consent decree, Toms River agreed to allow smaller houses of worship on minor collector roads and “treat houses of worship on comparable terms to nonreligious places of assembly.”
Rodrick denied Kim’s assertions.
“I have never written or said anything anti-semitic. Opposing Lakewood-style, high density development is not antisemitic nor is opposing a reduction in the acreage requirement for houses of worship. Residents don’t want traffic and commercial activity in their residential neighborhoods,” Rodrick said. “Residents overwhelmingly supported me in the primary. They are not antisemitic and neither am I.”
This story was updated at 11:36 PM with comment from Rodrick.