Robert D. Curtin will seek the Republican nomination for mayor in Ocean Gate, where incumbent Paul Kennedy faces charges of stealing change from a municipal parking meter and selling government property through online auctions and keeping the cash.
Kennedy has not said if he will seek re-election this year. He has not filed nominating petitions and the deadline to do so is April 4.
Councilman Robert Livingston, a Kennedy ally, is also considering a bid for mayor, the New Jersey Globe has learned. Livingston’s borough council seat is up this year.
Lynda Kennedy, the mayor’s wife, has resigned her position as Ocean Gate GOP municipal chair.
Curtin said he hasn’t decided if he will seek to run on the Ocean County Republican organization line.
“The whole Republican Party semes to be trying to figure out what they’re doing,” said Curtin. “I would be surprised if they want someone closely associated with the mayor.”
Curtin, the 72-year-old vice commodore of the Ocean Gate Yacht Club, said he was already planning to challenge Kennedy in the Republican primary before the mayor was arrested.
Kennedy has admitted his role in the theft, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors executed a search warrant against him, that cash was recovered, and that he made statements or admissions that were recorded by a “stationhouse interview camera room.”
Last night, the borough council voted to slash Kennedy’s salary from $50,000 to $1. He has already been suspended from his full-time job with Ocean County, leaving him with no visible means of support.
Kennedy could try to hold on to the mayor’s post to make his resignation part of a plea agreement. His term expires at the end of the year.
If he doesn’t file in the Republican primary, Kennedy has the option of running as an independent. That filing deadline is June 7.