Contested Point Beach GOP Primary Today
Three candidates have different views on fees for bars to stay open until 2 a.m.
George Loder, running as an "Independent Republican" for one of two Point Beach Borough Council seats, is against the town offering bars the option of paying a fee to stay open later.
"That doesn't solve the problem because the bars are still open until 2 a.m.," said Loder.
Ironically, one of his opponents, Republican Andy Cortes, agrees: sort of.
"If they're closing the bars for a quality of life reason, but then you let the bars pay to stay open until 2 a.m., how does that address the problem?" Cortes asked rhetorically. "If I lived in District 4, I'd feel sold out. Because then it's not about quality of life. It's about quantity of money."
Also, Cortes said, since the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has not yet rendered an opinion on it, he's not sure they will allow it. He said he would need a lot more information on the issue before voting on it, if he was currently on council.
The "sort of" part is that the two disagree on closing bars earlier to begin with. Loder supports it. Cortes is against it.
Also against it is Cortes' running mate, Stephen Reid, the lone incumbent running. He is vying to hold onto his council seat that he was appointed to last December.
However, the proposal to give bars the option to pay a fee to stay open until 2 a.m. is scheduled for a vote at the June 12 council meeting.
The three are running for two, three-year Point Beach Borough Council seats in today's primary, the only contested primary for council seats.
In November, the two GOP winners will face off with Democrats Sharon Cadalzo and Barry Moffett and any Independents who may file to run. Those who want to run as Independents must file by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
As for bars paying fees to stay open later, Reid said he has concerns about a state Department of Community Affairs letter that says the proposal "appears to be unlawful."
"I'll probably vote in favor of it which I know sounds silly because it's illegal, but I'd have to do that," Reid said. "I had said I would vote against it, but if it gives the bars the opportunity to stay open later, then I'll have to vote in favor of it.
"I know this was designed to go after the boardwalk," he said. "But I'm not worried about them. I'm worried about the other businesses that are worried about surviving."
Jenkinson's and Martell's had offered to pay $800,000 during the next five years to help pay for police services, following private negotiations with elected officials.
Mayor Vincent Barrella and councilmembers Bret Gordon, who had been at the most recent rounds of negotiations before the May 15 council meeting, and councilmembers Kristine Tooker and Michael Corbally, have said that the offer was too vague and lacked a mechanism to make sure it worked each recurring year.
Reid said he advised his fellow council members in executive session to table the ordinance to close bars at midnight, take the $800,000 offer and, if necessary, re-evaluate it at the end of the five-year period.
Reid said, "We had three weeks (between meetings) to work out the details. We shouldn't have been waiting for the boardwalk to give us a mechanism. We should come up with that, put it in writing and tell them what we want. But the goal line seems to keep moving forward."
Cortes said he opposes the midnight closings because "I don't think that's the complete solution to the problem."
Cortes said the offer of $800,000 should be have been discussed more through additional "good faith negotiations."
"I think I have the personality and demeanor to be in amicable negotiations," Cortes said. "I think there was some strong arming on both sides. I've dealt with union shops when I worked at Comcast. The disagreements in this case are similar to a contract. You agree on the preliminaries and you go through the details and hammer things out."
When asked if he opposes the earlier bar closings because he is concerned about how it will impact the boardwalk businesses, which have hotly opposed the restriction, he said, "It's on my list as a reason, but it's down the list."
Loder said he thinks the bars should close at midnight: period.
"I'm in favor of it for a better quality of life," Loder said, "Look at what's been going on during Memorial Day weekend. We have 2 million visitors per year and for decades now our town has been supporting that.
"I'm not against tourism, but we have to have some balance," he said. "This has to be about the residents. My adversaries say closing bars earlier is catering to District 4. But we're all impacted by higher taxes that are caused by having to pay for this (extra police)."
He said he doesn't think $800,000 for five years is worth another two hours of bar patrons imbibing.
"For each taxpayer, that works out to about $4 per month," he said. "I've been going door to door and I just don't think most residents feel that's worth it."
Although all three candidates have said they're in favor of more police enforcement (and there are more special police officers working this summer), they don't agree on who should pay for it and how it should be paid for.
Cortes said he did witness more police coverage being put in play when he was out touring the boardwalk and District 4 areas during the late nights and early morning hours of Memorial Day weekend. He said while riding his bike, he saw more police on patrol, making arrests and getting noticed by bar patrons.
Of the three, Loder is the only Republican candidate in favor of the District 4 parking plan that was recently passed and goes into effect on June 22.
Three GOP Candidates Have Run Before and Lost
In politics, it's often thought that trying to run for office after losing is an uphill battle. In the Point Beach Republican primary, all three residents vying for two open council seats have run before and lost.
After losing his mayoral bid by only 36 votes, Reid was appointed and is now running to keep the seat. He had also lost a mayoral bid in 2010 when there was a failed effort to recall Barrella.
Reid is a partner in the firm of Capital Public Affairs in Princeton. He is a Point Beach native and lives on New Jersey Avenue with his wife, Jacqui, and his daughter, Evangeline.
Cortes lost his council bid last year when Bill Mayer was the only Republican to win. Mayer is now serving a three-year term.
Cortes, who lives on Washington Avenue, worked for Comcast for 34 years, most recently as a supervisor, but was recently laid off with other supervisors and is looking for employment. He moved to Point Beach in 1968 when he was 10 years old, after visiting for two weeks of vacation for years prior.
Cortes graduated from Point Pleasant Beach High School in 1976. He lives with his fiancée, Colleen, and her daughter, Kelsey, and son, Frank, on Washington Avenue. Andy has three daughters, Dorothy, Loren and Tiffany.
Loder, who lives on Atlantic Avenue, had been appointed to council in 2004, but then lost his election bid to Corbally, a Democrat.
Loder works as an area manager in Philadelphia for Smith and Netheny, a Memphis, TN-based company which manufactures and sells medical devices. He has lived in Point Pleasant Beach since 1992 with his wife, Susan.
Polls will be open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. For Districts 1 and 2, the polling location is Point Pleasant Beach Fire Company No. 2 on Laurel Avenue. For Districts 3 and 4, the polling place is Ocean Fire Company No. 1, 400 Arnold Ave.