Toms River school board member Ashley Palmiere Lamb says she will seek the Republican nomination for Ocean County Commissioner, setting up a fight between a 35-year-old local official and Virginia E. Haines, a 75-year-old incumbent who has been a fixture in local and state politics for more than 40 years.
Lamb filed her declaration of candidacy with Ocean County Republicans last week in a bid to take part in a process to award the organization line.
“In 2019, I was moved when you stated you wanted to help elect more young women,” Lamb said in a letter to the GOP county chairman, Frank B. Holman III. “I strongly believe now is the time to work on electing motivated conservative Republican women like myself to county government.”
Lamb specifically stated that she wishes to challenge Haines and not Jack Kelly, a 70-year-old former Eagleswood mayor who has served as a county commissioner for 30 years. Kelly and James Lacey ousted Democrats Paul Brush and Mark Troncone, the last two Democrats to win a countywide election in Ocean County, by about 15,000 votes in 1992.
Haines has served as a county commissioner since 2016 and is just the second woman to hold an elected county post. She served as an aide to then-Assemblyman Bob Singer (R-Lakewood) and as Assembly Clerk before winning a State Assembly seat in the 1991 GOP wave election. She later resigned from the Assembly when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman named her as the executive director of the New Jersey Lottery. Haines is the Republican National Committeewoman from New Jersey.
A salon and floral shop owner, Lamb was elected to the Toms River Board of Education in 2020. She finished second in a field of nine candidates for two seats, finishing 2,439 votes ahead of the fourth-place finisher, Rachel Remelgado. Her husband, Justin Lamb, is a Toms River councilman.