New Toms River Mayoral Candidate: A Kind Of Rematch

Ben Giovine (Photo courtesy Ben Giovine)

  TOMS RIVER – A new candidate is facing off against a councilman for the mayoral position – the second time the two have sparred.

  Ben Giovine will now be heading up the Democrat ticket in the election this November. He is competing against Councilman Daniel Rodrick, the Republican choice. But this is not the first time the two have run against each other.

  In 2018, Rodrick was a Democrat. He fought to lead the Toms River Democrats since the chair of that party was stepping down. Giovine was running against him. The New Jersey Globe reported that Giovine beat Rodrick 25-20.

  In an Asbury Park Press story, Rodrick said he had been a Republican for 20 years. He changed to Democrat and won election to the council in 2017. He switched back to the Republicans in 2018 after losing the race for party chair.


  Rodrick said his decision to switch sides was largely related to his disdain for Governor Phil Murphy’s decisions and other Democrat policies, such as their take on immigration.

  “I have always considered myself a conservative,” he said in a prepared statement back then.

  “I’m not surprised,” Giovine said in a prepared statement to the APP. “The Republican party in Ocean has lots of money in their campaign coffers and plenty of patronage jobs to hand out. Dan is out for Dan.”

Dan Rodrick (Campaign Photo)

Republicans Reuniting

  The Republican party splintered in Toms River over county chair George Gilmore. Now, that seems to be patched up since they are working together on fundraising efforts.

  When Gilmore was arrested on tax evasion charges, he lost his leadership role in the party. He was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, but never served any time because then-President Donald Trump later pardoned him.

  In the primary election in June, there were four candidates to run for mayor. The primary election is when members of a political party decide who will represent them in November.

  Rodrick won the primary over current Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill, who had been a leader of the Republicans who pushed away from Gilmore. Gilmore’s candidate was Geri Ambrosio, former president of the Toms River Republican Club. Robert Bianchini ran by himself.

  Gilmore has since returned to leading the county Republicans. Even though his team competed against Rodrick’s team in June, they appear to be coming back together. Gilmore held a fundraiser for Rodrick and his running mates for $300 a plate, with sponsorship going up to $5,000.

Democrats’ Late Start

  The Democrats’ original choice for mayor was former Councilman John Furey, but he stepped down. Giovine won the nod with two and a half months left to campaign.

  Giovine was on the Toms River Board of Education for two terms. He is currently the district director for Representative Andy Kim (D-3rd).

  In announcing his candidacy, he said “I take this step with the support of my family and friends and with the support of the many Republicans, Democrats and independents that have reached out to express their concerns about the future of our town. My campaign will be centered around the local issues that affect residents every day.

  “Toms River is my hometown. I went to K-12 public schools and raising my family here. I was raised by values and not politics. During my time on the Toms River Board of Ed, I successfully built a bipartisan coalition to root out corruption. I hope a majority of Toms River recognizes that we cannot allow corrupt individuals take over our politics. Our community is better than that,” he said.

  The mayor’s spot isn’t the only one on the ballot that had a vacancy. Kajal Lal had won the council spot in the primary, but she had stepped down from the running after taking a federal job. That spot has now been filled by Ruby Franco.

List Of Candidates

  This is going to be a busy election year in town. There is the mayor and three council members on the ballot, as well as three Board of Education spots.

  The Republican slate for town government is led by Councilman Dan Rodrick for mayor. His council candidates are Tom Nivison, owner of Silverton Farms, Lynn O’Toole, president of adult community Holiday City Silverton Phase II, and longtime educator Craig Coleman, former principal of Ocean County Vocational-Technical School.

  The Regular Democratic Organization of Ocean County is running Ben Giovine for mayor, with Board of Education member Michelle Williams and Rhetta Jackson-Fair, a pastor at True Vine Ministries in Bayville, and Ruby Franco for council.

  For the Board of Education, there are five candidates competing for three, three-year terms.

  Ashley Lamb, Diane Oxley, and Paola Pascarella are running under the slogan Vote Common Sense.

  James Capone and LeRoy J. Marshall are running under the slogan For The Students.