Category Archives: Candidate Forum


Middletown, NJ – A “Meet the Candidates” forum has been scheduled to introduce the local Democratic candidates at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct.13 at the Main Branch of the Middletown Public Library located at 55 New Monmouth Rd., Middletown.

The open public session will give residents the opportunity to meet the candidates for Middletown Township Committee, Jim Grenafege and Carol Fowler, to discuss issues affecting Middletown and to exchange ideas for making Middletown’s government more responsive and the town a better place to live.

Jim Grenafege is an advocate for small, transparent, representative government focused on local tax relief and community quality-of-life. He actively champions for fiscal responsibility, government accountability and timely open access to public information. Jim often challenges status quo policies and practices of local government and offers alternatives to better serve the citizens of Middletown Township.

Carol Fowler and her family are lifelong residents of Lincroft. She has been a member of the Lincroft First Aid and Rescue Squad for the past 28 years and she currently serves as the Director of the Center for US War Veteran Oral Histories at the National Guard Militia Museum, where she also works as Assistant Curator. She feels that taxpayers have been exploited long enough by those currently sitting on the Township Committee who seem to serve their Party Chairman and other cronies more so than the residents of Middletown.

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Filed under Candidate Forum, Carol Fowler, Jim Grenafege, Meet and Greet, Middletown Library, press release

>MiddletownPatch: Three BOE Candidates Seek One-Year Term to Address Pressing Issues

>Currently up over at MiddletownPatch is an article which profiles the three individuals, Leonora Caminiti, Allen Burns and Ernest Donnelly, that seeking to be elected to the Middletown Board of Education to fill the 1 year unexpired term left by Dan Skelton, who stepped down from the board earlier this year.

The profiles are pretty straight forward and standard, nothing controversial but gives each’s position on a couple of topics. So, If you weren’t able to attend one of the four BOE Candidate Forums that were held over the past two weeks, these profiles may be able to help your decision making process for whom to vote for.
I attended the Candidate Forum that was held on April 14th at Harmony School and out of these three individuals, I was most impress Ernest Donnelly (Caminiti was a no show). He seemed to has a clear notion of what was needed to ensure that the schools ran properly and efficiently and as a former educator and superintendent himself, he knows what to look for when hiring a new superintendent in Middletown.
Allan Burns did not impress me at all, his stances on some of the issues seemed naive and his outright refusal to approve any budget in the future that included a tax increase was unrealistic in my eyes and came across as pandering.
But go over to the MiddletownPatch website and read the profiles anyway and read for yourself, you may walk away with a different opinion.
Also, remember that I have posted audio from the April 19th Candidate Forum that was hosted by the Middletown Republican Party at the Lincroft Inn.
While the forum was not a great venue for the candidates to express their views (questions where directed at individual candidates only, others could not comment) and it seemed somewhat biased, you can hear Burns and Donnelly speak.


Filed under Candidate Forum, Lincroft Inn, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Republicans,

>Audio From April 19th Middletown Board of Education Candidate Forum At Lincroft Inn

>On April 19th 2011, the Middletown Republican Party held a BOE Candidate Forum at the Lincroft Inn.

The first 11 minutes of the meeting consisted of Republican Club business followed by the Candidate Forum. After each candidate was give 2 minutes to introduce themselves the floor was open to questions and answers.

Candidates Leonora Caminitti, Barry Allen Travis and Richard Morrill did not attend but had statements read.

The meeting ran approx. 1.5 hours and can be heard in its entirety below, but I have to admit I haven’t listened to all of it as of yet. I have only gotten through the first hour, I will listen to more as time allows between now and the Board of Education election which will be held next week on April 27th.

My one thought on this meeting is that it wasn’t much different that the one I attended in person over at Harmony School on April 14th which was written about in this weeks edition of the Independent


Filed under Candidate Forum, Lincroft Inn, Lincroft NJ, Middeltown Board of Education, Middletown NJ, Middletown Republicans, the Independent

>Meet And Greet Middletown School Board Candidates at Upcoming Candidate Forums

>It’s just 17 days before theApril 27th school board election is to be held and candidate signs are begining to sprout up around jug handles and shopping center all over the place.

This year, the field of candidates seeking a position on the Middletown Board of Education is extremely large, four positions are open and need to be filled due to three incumbants not seeking re-election and one resignation earlier this year.
There will be six candidates running for 3 three-year terms and three candidates running for one open seat for a one-year term. The six candidates seeking three- year terms are: Gerry Wexelberg, Bob Banta,John Macrae,Richard Morrill, Bob Superti and Barry Allan Travis.
While the three candidates looking to fill the one-year term will be: Leonora Caminiti, Ernest Donnelly,and Allan Burns. The winner of this seat will need to run again next year in order to gain a full three-year terms on the board.
There will be four Candidate Forums held before the April 27th school board election that give give voters an opportunity to meet and greet candidates starting tomorrow when two forums will be taking place, below is a list:
April 12th:
Sponsored by – Middletown Mornings
Place – Middletown Township Public Library @ 9:30 a.m.
Sponsored by – Lincroft PTA
Place – Lincroft Elementary School’s All Purpose Room @ 7:45 p.m.

April 14th:
Sponsored by -Harmony Elementary School PTO
Place – Harmony Elementary School’s All Purpose Room @7 p.m.

April 19th:
Sponsored by – Republican Club of Middletown and Executive Committee
Place – Lincroft Inn @ 7 p.m.
If you are unfamiliar with the candidate running this year and want a head start getting to know a few of them and their positions on school issue, there are some websites up and running that may help. Bob Banta and Gerry Wexelberg, Barry Allen Travis and John Macrae all have websites that introduce themsleves and let you know where they stand on school issues
I would also like to extend an invitation to all the candidate running for the Middletown Board of Education this year, to send an introduction letter with your thoughts and ideas of how you would make the Middletown school system and the education of our children better.
Send the letters to and I will post them to the blog as they come in.


Filed under Candidate Forum, Harmony School, Lincroft Inn, Lincroft School, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Library

>Your Commentary Inspired Me


I was sent the following by a reader who was inspired by me to comment on some of the nonsense that Middletown’s acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, wrote and submitted to the Asbury Park Press for the candidates feature which was posted online earlier today. Enjoy!

A Commentary on Scharfenberger’s statements in APP

I’m running for a seat on the Middletown Township Committee simply because I care deeply for the township (yeah…that’s why you gave us a 14% tax increase this year… ) and want to help shape its future. I have two children who have gone through or still attend Middletown’s public schools and want our community to be affordable ( a 45% tax increase in 5 years is “affordable?”), desirable and in possession of all of the fine qualities we now enjoy when they grow into adulthood.

One of the most daunting tasks elected officials in New Jersey face is how to cut property taxes (you have NEVER LOWERED TAXES AS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL). While Middletown Township spends far less per capita than any of our neighbors, it is imperative that we lead the way further in cutting spending and lowering property taxes. (If you haven’t found a way to lower our taxes in 5 years, you should thrown out of office!!!) Thankfully, the reforms that Governor Christie has proposed will give local governments the ability to cut the size of government and lower taxes that they don’t have now.

As residents of Middletown, we understand why we have been named one of the top 100 places to live in the country by Money Magazine. As residents of New Jersey, we also know that we are the state with the highest property taxes in the nation. We must immediately cut the size of government and find innovative ways to provide essential services. (Why haven’t you done this after five years?) This will take tough decision-making and creative ideas. I look forward to partnering with Governor Christie to return our state to a place where generations of people can afford to live (I can’t afford another term of Gerry!) and raise their families.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Candidate Forum, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee

All Candidates For Middeltown Board Of Education Urge Approval of School Budget At Friday’s Forum And Other Observations

Friday morning I attended the Middletown Board of Education’s Candidate Forum at Panera Bread in Middletown. This last of three forums was hosted by Stephanie Murray of the Middletown Mornings organization. When I got there Friday morning I didn’t quiet know what to expect in the respect of turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised to see over thirty people in attendance.

Ms. Murray opened the forum by having each candidate take a minute and a half to introduce themselves and explain why they felt they should be elected to the BOE this year.

Six of the seven candidates were in attendance and in order of their opening remarks are:

Patricia Walsh
Dawn Diorio
Gerry Wexelberg
Michael Mascone
Vincent Brand
Leonora Caminiti

Chris Aveta, who is running on the same ticket as Mascone and Brand was not in attendance Friday morning.

I recorded the meeting in its entirety and was going to break it all down into individual questions and answers, but because I have been hit with some kind of “Bug” that attacked me late Friday night and have been in bed since, I have decided just to post the whole recording.

It runs for 46 minutes but seems to play faster than that. The meeting was fast paced and kept all of those there engaged.

For me the only real news that came out of the forum was that each candidate agreed that the this years school budget should be passed by voters on Tuesday. Failure to pass the budget would only mean more drastic cuts that would penalize students and teachers alike.

After the forum was over I mingled amongst the crowd and spoke to a few candidates. I had a very nice conversation with Mike Mascone and Vinnie Brand, both of whom were polite and cordial but who took exception with me for my earlier blog post that accused them and their running mate Chris Aveta of being lap dogs for Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore and the Middletown GOP.

Each profess that they had only met Fiore no more than three times and wouldn’t even recognize him if the saw him in the street, which I took with a grain of salt put didn’t pursue.

I told each of them that my problem wasn’t with them as individuals but with the perceived endorsement of Fiore, who signed Brand’s and Aveta’s school board petitions.
Brand thought that it wasn’t a problem and that Tony Fiore (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to openly endorse his candidacy if they so chose.
I disagreed with that statement and I let them know that for years the Middletown GOP has tried to gain influence over the Middletown BOE to varying degrees of success. And when they did gain control several years ago with their “Back To Basics” slate of candidates it was a disaster. The expansion and upgrades to Bayshore, Thorne and Thompson Middle Schools were over budget and wrought with problems, and contract negotiations ended when over 200 teachers were sent to jail.
In my opinion, there is no room for partisan politics on the school board and just having the Deputy Mayor’s signature on both Brand’s and Aveta’s petitions is enough to raise doubts in my mind and others.
Fiore’s signature on those petitions poison Brand’s, Mascone’s and Aveta’s candidacy for the board of ed no matter how sincere Vinnie Brand’s and Mike Mascone’s insistence to me that they are there own men and that they would not be influenced in any way by Fiore or other members of the Middletown GOP.
With that being said, listen to the audio and make up your own mind, but most importantly vote “YES” for the budget and vote for the candidates that you think will be the best representative for your and your child’s best interests on Tuesday April 20th


Filed under Candidate Forum, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown GOP, Middletown Mornings, Panera Breads, Patricia Walsh, Stephanie Murray

Wouldn’t it Make Sense To Show Up To a Candidates Forum If You Were A Candidate?

Last night the Middletown Board of Education held the first of three Candidate Forums for residents to meet and learn about those people that are seeking election onto the school board.

I was unable to attend last nights forum because I was on “homework” assignment but I hope to attend one of the other two scheduled events.
From what I have been told about last nights forum only five of the seven candidates bothered to show up! Mike Mascone and Vinnie Brand, two of the three individuals backed by Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore did not show. In his absence Brand had a lenghty statement read by the moderator, which at times was not coherent.
Here’s what an anonymous commentator had to say about last nights event concerning Mascone , Brand and Aveta:
“…With the times being so serious I don’t understand how 2 candidates who want to run for this extremely important position not show up for these events. Where’s the dedication and commitment that is needed?

These critical times require experience which wss quite obvious in the exchanges between the current BOE members and Mr. Aveta, but at least he showed up….”

I have to agree with the commentator, if you are a serious candidate how could you not make last nights forum,what was so important that Mascone and Brand couldn’t show up to meet potential voters?
Mascone must have been very busy because he didn’t bother to respond to the invitation for last nights event, and who knows about Brand, maybe Vinnie Brand was too busy making jokes about his kids somewhere to take the forum seriously.


Filed under Candidate Forum, Middletown Board of Education, Vinnie Brand

Middletown School Board Candidates’ Forums: Meet The Candidates for the Upcoming April 20th BOE Election

For interested residents who wish to make an informed decision about who to vote for in the upcoming school board elections the Middletown Board of Education will be holding a series of Candidate Forums starting tonight. These forums will be sponsored by various township organizations and are a good opportunity to meet and hear from the candidates that will be seeking election onto the Middletown Board of Education.

Those seeking election on to the School Board are:

Dawn Diorio
Leonora Caminiti
Gerald Wexelberg

Patricia Walsh

Michael Mascone
Chris Aveta
Vincent Brand

And will be sponsored by and take place at:

Organization: Lincroft PTA
Place: Lincroft Elementary School – All Purpose Room
Date: Wednesday, April 7
Time: 7:30 p.m

Organization: Middletown Republican Club
Place: Lincroft Inn
Date: Wednesday, April 14
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Organization: Middletown Mornings
Place: To be determined
Date: Friday, April 16
Time: 9:30 a.m.

An FYI for those that think partisen party politics should have no place in the education of our children should note that the ticket of Mascone, Aveta and Brand seems to have been put together by Mayor Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Fiore in an apparent effort to have more control over the school board.

All three candidates have ties to the Middeltown Soccer League and Deputy Mayor Fiore. The Middletown Soccer League supported the Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s efforts to have a sports complex built at West Front Street Park in Lincroft and now tht the plans for new turf fields in town have fallen through, all three have a vested interest in seeing that the artifical turf fields at both Middeltown High Schools are opened for the personal use of Middletown Soccer.

Deputy Mayor Fiore’s signature can be seen on both the Brand and Aveta petitions

Do Mascone, Aveta and Brand have the best interests of the students in Middletown at heart or are they more interested in partisen politics and seeing their best interests are taken care of first? That is a question that should be asked of them during these Candidate Forums.


Filed under artificial turf fields, Candidate Forum, Chris Aveta, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Soccer, Tony"the fibber"Fiore, Vinnie Brand