The political scandal involving former Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy’s arrest for selling municipal property and pocketing the proceeds has led to the return of a onetime Kennedy foe.
The Ocean Gate Borough Council voted on Wednesday to appoint Bruce R. Cox, a 71-year-old former councilman, to fill the vacant seat of David Kendrick. Kendrick became mayor after Kennedy resigned one day before he was to be ousted.
Cox, who served from 2016 to 2018, is expected to become the Republican candidate to fill a 26-month unexpired term on the general election ballot. He was selected over Robert Lange, a local realtor.
The Ocean Gate Democratic organization, which is two county committee members, Terry Coleman and Chris Theodos, will pick the party nominee to take on Cox.
In exchange for seven months as mayor, Kendrick had to resign from the council seat he was re-elected to last year.
Kennedy was also charged with stealing money from borough parking meters. He has also been suspended from his job with Ocean County.
In the June 7 Republican primary, Republicans picked an outsider to run for mayor.
Robert Curtin scored an off-the-line victory in the GOP mayoral primary, defeating Councilwoman Laura Padham-Iaria by landslide 79%-21% margin, 353 to 67.
Kendrick’s move to the mayoralty creates a control election in heavily-Republican Ocean gate. Incumbents Joella Nicastro and Robert Livingston will run on a slate with Curtin and Cox.
Democrats nominated Denis Stagliano for mayor.
While Democrats did not file any candidates for the two council seats, James McGrath and Robert Waldron won enough write-in votes to win the Democratic primary if they choose to accept the nomination.
Robert “Woody” Vassallo and Richard Piscal have filed to run as independents under the “Morris Forward Together.”
Control of the local Republican Party has also flipped. Kennedy’s wife resigned as municipal chair, and the newly-elected county committee members, Nicastro and Rosemary Mastronardy, are expected to vote for Sheriff Michael Mastronardy over former chairman George Gilmore. Ocean Gate had previously been allied with Gilmore.
At the very least, the political influence of the Ocean Gate Yacht Club appears to be expanding. Curtin the vice commodore and Cox is their webmaster.