There will be a contested primary for mayor of Toms River, where at least one Republican is contesting the endorsement of Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore.
Councilman Dan Rodrick says he will challenge former Ocean County prosecutor Joseph Coronato in the June Republican primary. Coronato is Gilmore’s pick to replace retiring 86-year-old three term mayor Thomas Kelaher.
A Republican screening committee voted by a razor-thin 10-9 vote to support Coronato over four-term councilman Maurice (Mo) Hill.
Hill is challenging the results by asking the full Toms River Republican Club to vote on an endorsement on Thursday.
Rodrick, who unseated a GOP councilman in 2017 and then switched parties last year, said that Republicans refused to support him for mayor because he would not back their plan to develop the Ciba-Geigy Superfund site.
“Instead, they chose to endorse land use attorney Joe Coronato, who made a career out of getting developers what they want,” said Rodrick. “I promised the residents of this community that I would stop over-development. Now these greedy lunatics want to develop an area the size of Hoboken – on the site of the Toms River cancer cluster.”
According to Rodrick, township officials – under Gilmore’s direction – have joined in discussions with developer Jack Morris and the current owner, BASF.
“It’s highly unethical for the Township to be connecting a single developer with a landowner without putting out a Request for Proposals. And, it’s even more unethical for the township to connect BASF with a developer in the midst of a tax appeal,” said Rodrick. “I will not let that happen, which is why I’m running against Joe Coronato in the Republican primary.”
The close vote of the screening committee, which occurred with Gilmore in the room, could be a sign of the longtime county chairman’s weakening status as he approaches his trial on tax evasion charges.
Looming large in the plans of potential candidates for mayor is the likelihood of a verdict in Gilmore’s trial before the June Republican primary.
Gilmore refused to step down as county chairman following his indictment.Dan Rodrick Text Messages CIBA-GEIGY