Category Archives: Sean Dunne

>Obama Can Challenge Meaning Of ‘Irish-American’


This past Monday President Obama made a historic visit to the country of Ireland, while there he addressed a crowed estimated to be 58,000 strong and spoke of his own Irish heritage.
My friend Sean Dunne, who some may remember ran for the NJ Assembly 2010, wrote the following article about Obama’s visit to Ireland and what it means to be “Irish American”. The article was posted on line on the Irish news website the Independent

By Sean Dunne
Monday May 23 2011

PRIOR to his visit, Barack Obama’s Irish heritage has been largely, and perhaps unsurprisingly, ignored by the American public.

But his time here can’t only open up the ways in which he is perceived by other Americans, it can also challenge the narrow definitions often employed when we discuss what it means to be Irish-American.

It is impossible to ignore the significance of his speech to the Irish public, where he will address an audience within close proximity to the statue of the great ‘liberator’, Daniel O’Connell. An American president, with Irish and African heritage, is in many ways a vindication of many of O’Connell’s arguments against racial oppression in the US. Obama can today build off of those arguments.

In 1963, John F Kennedy began what has become a tradition among American presidents when he made the first presidential trip to Ireland.

Kennedy’s visit was significant for Irish-Americans and Ireland, as his Irish Catholic identity was a significant element in both the support and criticism he received.

He won the presidential election less than 100 years after some states granted Irish-Americans the right to vote, and his election was viewed as a symbol of achievement and hope.

Now Obama also has the potential to make significant contributions to the discussion of what it means to be Irish-American.

The identity of Obama has been subject to challenges during his political career. Many questioned whether he was even a US-born citizen. This frenzy resulted in the president releasing his long-form birth certificate last month.

It is instructive to place the questions surrounding Obama’s identity in the context of how an American has been defined.

Noah Webster’s dictionary in 1828 defined an American as “a native of America; originally applied to the aboriginals, or copper-coloured races, found here by the Europeans, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America”.

The opportunity to become “real” Americans was extended to the large numbers of Irish immigrants in the 19th Century, when the Democratic Party recruited them.

The Democrats reached out to the Irish community and promised that they would be treated similarly to other Europeans. In return, they were asked to support Democratic politicians and the racial discrimination that aided their party. O’Connell implored the Irish in the US to reject this arrangement. Many ignored O’Connell’s pleas, but not all of them did.

In the 1870 Federal Census, it was reported that 12pc of the African-American community in New York City defined themselves as Irish-African-American.

This level of intermarriage between the Irish and African-American communities portrays how diverse the Irish diaspora had become. However, this statistic should also reflect how the Irish heritage of large numbers of Irish-Americans is ignored, as many are simply defined as “black”.

For Obama and his mantra of “change we can believe in”, this is a change he can accomplish.

Sean Dunne of Holmdel NJ, is an author and academic, is a member of the US Democrats living abroad in Ireland. This article was published prior to President Obama’s historic visit to Ireland online @

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Filed under, College Green, Dublin Ireland, irish heritage, President Obama, Sean Dunne, the Independent, Topgold

Assemblyman Thomspon’s Attempt At A Smackdown Results In A Returned Jab

Below is an email exchange that was sent to me, between 13th District Assemblyman Republican Sam Thompson and former Independent Candidate Sean Dunne.

Dunne ran as an Independent for the State Assembly this year and took exception with how Thompson presented himself during interviews with the Asbury Park Press and the local Independent and the subsequent endorsements by those papers of Sam Thompson and his running mate Amy Handlin.
Mr. Dunne wrote a scathing letter to the Asbury Park Press (which I posted) that addressed their overtly biased favortism for Mr. Thompson’s candidacy in the 13th District. The letter went on to say how Thompson supported the construction and delpoyment of Liquid Natural Gass (LNG) terminals along the bayshore and how one of Thompson’s secrataries, Lucille Panos, is a classic pension fund double dipper.

Mrs. Panos is an elected Councilwoman in Old Bridge who earns a $6,000 stipen for that position and as a member of Sam Thompson’s staff earns another $27,500 a year towards her State pension.
On a personal note, it is also an affirmation of this blog’s influence and readership. The MiddeltownMike blog was the only place that Mr. Dunne’s letter was published.
I feel that the email is very telling, it show the level of entitlement in which Sam Thompson feels is owed to him as an assemblyman:
November 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Dunn:

A blog that you had posted and a flyer that you had distributed in the campaign has been brought to my attention.

Sir, if you choose to attack in any way, that is your prerogative and I rarely bother with responding to opponents’ distortions relative to myself. However, I will not tolerate statements that print distorted pictures of my employees in and attempt to take a shot at me.

Your inferences with regards to Lucille Panos are totally unjustified and border on defamatory.

It is true Lucille Panos is employed by my office, but at a rate of $27,500. She is not employed for “Special Services.” I assume you use this term to suggest this may be a no show job. Ms. Panos is one of three Legislative Aides employed by my office as well as one full-time unpaid, volunteer aide. She is a full-time employee and you will find her in my office from 9-5 Monday thru Friday, the same as all State employees. She is not entitled to “Special Projects.” Nor is anyone else in this office. Instead, she and all staff members devote all of their time to providing constituent services, responding to correspondence, telephone calls and working one-on-one with constituents to resolve their problems which run the gamut of homestead rebates, property tax freeze, enrollment in prescription drug plans, ascertaining the most suitable Medicare Part D plan, resolving disputes with healthcare plans, assistance with utilities, etc.

Ms. Panos, as well as al of my staff members, do an outstanding job of providing all of these services, far and above the level you will find in any other legislative office in the State.

As for her salary, it is actually $27,500 not $29,500. As none of my employees had received any raise for several years due to unavailability of funds, this year I was able to persuade leadership to provide and additional $5,000 on a one time basis to distribute to my staff but this did not increase their base salary and there is no guarantee that I will be able to get it again next year.

As you had this information, you obviously have access to the State payroll data, probably from the APP web-site. If you will check it further, you will find she is the lowest paid of my threes employees – not because of the quality of her work but simply because she was hired years after the other two and that was all the salary funds I had left. I assure you, her performance merits a much higher pay. If you go further and compare her salary with that of staffers in other legislative offices, I have no doubt it will be among the lowest.

As for the “handsome pension” at taxpayer expense that she is in line for, if she continued in government employment until she reached 27 ½ years of service her $29,500” State salary plus her gigantic $6,000 council stipend would entitle her to a “handsome” pension of $17, 750/year. WOW!

Should you doubt the above statements about her work, we do have a database some 17,000 constituents we have serviced one–on–one. Further, I would be delighted to take you to any of several locations where you can wander around on your own and inquire relative to the quality of the services of Lucille Panos and my office. If interested, let me know.

You owe Ms. Panos an apology.

Sam Thompson

Dunne’s reply:

Dear Sam,

I do not know of the blog you are referring to, as I don’t run a blog. My campaign did include a website and a Facebook profile, but we didn’t use a blog. However, perhaps someone has taken information I have sent out and published it on their own blog.

Just to be clear, I have no doubt your office fills out forms and provides other advice to consituents. NJ runs confused government services that many people are very frustrated with. Many taxpayers want this improved, because accessible services are the least they should get for their money. Instead, we have offices like yours that have three full-time employees that must decipher forms for people. This is very symbolic of New Jersey fiscal policy. Why save money and make government services easy to access, when we can instead pay three full-time people in one District office to translate the confusion?

As for the other information that you discuss in your email to me. I would suggest you examine the Data Universe section of the Asbury Park Press site. If you feel that the information is a distortion, you should immediately contact them. Go to the section and conduct a search for Lucille Panos.

It states the following:

This does not appear to include the bonus you obtained for her, as it refers only the year 2008, so as you said, her earnings from your office are actually $32,500. If you do not like the work she provides for your office to be defined as “Special Services”, then I would once again advise you to contact the Asbury Park Press. Perhaps you feel that readers of the website will think that the title, “Special Services”, implies a no-show job. If so, you might be able to persuade them to change that label.

I do not follow your claim regarding Lucille Panos and Special Projects, so I am unable to comment on it. I don’t even understand what “Special Projects” are. I can only say that I have never mentioned anything regarding “Special Projects”.

You have made it clear in your email that you would like Panos to have a much higher pension, as you want to increase her salary even more. I’ll therefore wait, along with other taxpayers, to see how handsome her pension might become.

Your claim that I make distortions regarding your own positions is totally false, and I consider that an insult. You stated in our meeting with the Asbury Park Press that you have no problem receiving nearly $50,000 a year. You also called yourself a full-time legislator in the Independent. I wish this were a distortion, but unfortunately for taxpayers, it is not. I cannot think of one other area of employment where someone would say with a straight face that they deserve a full-time salary for a part-time job because they consider their work a full-time job. But again, this is New Jersey.

You told me twice that you supported the construction of Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals off the Jersey Coast. First at Hazlet Day, and second at the meeting with the Asbury Park Press when others were present. Again, I wish this were a distortion, but unfortunately it is not. I hope you reconsider this position on this project, because it is a terrible plan.

To claim that I distort your positions on any of the above is an outright lie, and you now owe me an explanation.

I do not take lightly an accusation that I lie, which is why I immediately responded to your unfounded claims. It’s amazing that providing information to voters is considered an “attack”, but I guess that’s one more part of the problem in New Jersey politics.

I have no doubt that you could take me to places where people are pleased with the services your office has provided. I’d be more than happy to take the tour you suggest, as I am always eager to learn. However, this should be a two-stop tour. First, we’ll have a meeting with people your office has helped. Second, we’ll meet with taxpayers that I’ve met who are absolutely sick of this kind of politics. I’m sure we both could learn something from that tour.

I look forward to hearing your explanation of how I have distorted anything about your positions or political beliefs. When you realize that your claim is unfounded, you can then issue your apology.

Yours sincerely,
Sean Dunne


Filed under Asbury Park Press, Sam Thompson, Sean Dunne, state pension system, the Independent

Letter: Sean Dunne Independent Candidate, Adresses the 13th Legislative District

Dear all,

I read with interest the article in the Asbury Park Press that provided an endorsement of Amy Handlin and Samuel Thompson in the 13th District.

I was struck by the dishonesty of the article, and the generally poor standard of journalism that is found throughout the article. This was not driven by the fact that I was not the one endorsed, as I entered the meeting knowing an endorsement for an Independent candidate would be very unlikely. I was also well aware that my answers to your survey made it even more unlikely that I would receive the endorsement. My criticism is instead based upon the deception that is found throughout the article.

It’s unfortunate that people in this area are not given an accurate portrayal of the discussion that took place between the Asbury Park Press and political candidates. It is very useful to have a media outlet that is willing and able to analyze the platforms of various political candidates and provide various opinions from this analysis. However, the article published by the Asbury Park Press demonstrates how media outlets misquote candidates and exclude important information to deceive readers. Deception should not be a goal of our media.

Of course, your paper has every right to come to the conclusion that the three challengers “offered little to suggest they are worthy of supplanting the incumbents”. That is your subjective opinion, and the editorial is the place for this to be expressed. The same is true in relation to your opinion that I seem “ill-equipped to address the problems in Trenton, particularly spending”. Again, this is your opinion, and this is what readers are expecting to read when they turn to your editorials.

However, your selective reporting does not provide readers with an accurate portrayal of the meeting. Each of these issues by themselves might not be very significant, but let’s see how it looks when they are all put together:

Samuel Thompson is defined as a “retired chemist”, and there’s no mention of his recent position as the communications director for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. In a paper that is critical of many state jobs, I found this interesting. Perhaps it is worth mentioning how he was appointed to that job? Amy Handlin is a “marketing professor”, when in fact, she is an associate professor of marketing. Perhaps those outside of academics do not understand the difference between the two, but I don’t believe this is an acceptable excuse for a newspaper that strives to be a credible source of information.

All points relating to the two incumbents are positive. In both articles about the 13th District, you buried our conversation about liquefied natural gas terminals. The three challengers were the most closely aligned with an editorial in your paper on this issue. Remember this:

I rang your reporter after the first article about his very sloppy misquote of me, in which he wrongly stated I wanted to reduce the number of police departments. When I asked why the discussion of the LNG terminals was buried, he told me it was for two reasons. Firstly, there was only limited space (somewhat understandable), and secondly, he thought my quote about foxes and sheep was funny. Is this really the standard measure for content in your articles? Last week, all five Monmouth County Freeholders voted to officially oppose the LNG terminals, four towns in this district officially oppose these terminals, and your own editorial team oppose these terminals, yet the APP must ensure that their readers get a punchline to a story? I would like to think that they would rather know how the candidates stand on such an important issue to this area.

In reference to the survey you asked candidates to answer, you only mention my responses (I did not agree with you as much as the other candidates), and Amy’s responses (she agreed most). Excluded are the responses of the other three candidates. This is interesting, as one of the challengers agreed with more suggestions in your survey than Sam did.

You state that Jim would raise the gasoline tax to help fund transportation improvements. You exclude the fact that Sam said the same thing. The context of your statement suggests that Jim was the only person to suggest this policy.

This leaves us with the concluding point about myself. This part seemed rather childish to me, along with the overall dishonesty of it. I explained at length in my introduction to your committee several parts of my background. My academic qualifications are dismissed, which is much different to your approach to Amy’s qualifications. I very clearly stated that I had recently finished my PhD at Trinity College Dublin, and that I also held a Master’s Degree from University College Dublin. I also explained that I lectured at several universities in Dublin. I let you know that I was on a self-financed sabbatical as I was completing a book. I then informed you that I was also involved in agriculture while in Ireland, and explained a little bit about my experience working on a family farm in Ireland. This experience included my work with European Agricultural Policies. At this point, I provided a statement about this experience, which you
actually misquoted. Within a very short span of time, I moved from a sheep herder in your first article on me, to a sheep farmer. Of course, you misquoted the joke, as the joke I would tell my neighbors who lived near our farm in Ireland included the “Bronx-born” aspect of my background, and of course, it was “in Ireland”, not “from Ireland”. Why would someone who grew up in Holmdel, New Jersey, and graduated Holmdel High School state that he is from Ireland? But why bother with those points, if it gets in the way of your editorial objectives?

To say that I refer to myself as “a vegetarian sheep farmer from Ireland” (after I explained at length where I grew up and went to high school in New Jersey), is childish at best, and deceptive at worst. I take a lot of pride in my involvement with a family farm, but the claim in your article falls into the pattern found in other media outlets, which is that an Independent candidate (from any political perspective) must viewed with the most extreme forms of suspicion.

Considering your pattern of reporting over the two articles, it appears to me that no paper could be this sloppy in misquotations and selective reporting. It is unfortunate that the readers of your paper expect honest reporting, and instead read childish quips about vegetarian sheep farming and selective reporting that produces a dishonest description of our meeting.

I was the only candidate not in a political party in that room, and it was shocking to see firsthand the trouble you went through to endorse the candidates of your choice. You have every right to endorse Sam and Amy, but why do you rely upon excessive fabrications when making this endorsement? It seems to suggest that you don’t have much to base the endorsement on.

With less than one week left, the other candidates and I will no doubt continue to critique each other’s positions, and this is a healthy part of political campaigns. Our criticisms, like those of the media, should be both honest and relevant. It’s a pity you do not follow this principle.

It is good, for example, that candidates present their arguments about the LNG terminals so that voters can hear differing views and then decide which candidate is best for them.

With Election Day around the corner, you provided Sam with space to critique Daggett’s tax plan, and I would like to request the same amount of space to critique Sam’s policy of paying all that taxpayer money to Lucille Panos. Panos, of course, is a Councilwoman from Old Bridge, which pays $6,000 and benefits, and according to your Data Universe, Sam’s office pays her an additional $29,500 for Special Services. You ignore this incredible fact, and instead state in the article that Sam “has an outstanding record on constituent service”. Surely taxpayers would like to know the part that their money plays in Panos providing that service?

Sam also stated in the meeting that he has no problem taking nearly $50,000 for a part-time job. One of his excuses was that he did this full-time. Imagine a guy in any other part-time job who demanded full-time pay, because he treated the job like a full-time job. He’d be fired before the day was over.
Fiscal conservatism, indeed.

Amy Handlin was a Freeholder when a string of corruption arrests took place in the area, and no one can point to any serious work she has done on corruption. Yet she earns the title of “one of the most ardent supporters of ethics reforms” from your editorial team. How could she do so little on corruption, when it costs NJ taxpayers so much money?

That “easy choice” for District 13 becomes less easy when we consider all of the above, and this is why the deception and dishonesty are necessary to make the article fit the headline.

Not only do I request the opportunity to publish a letter to the editor in your paper, I also request that you make an apology to Bob, Jim, Amy, Sam and I for your unprofessional conduct. It should also go without saying that you owe an apology to your readers.

Will a paper like the Asbury Park Press publish important information about the incumbents, or will you bury it like you did all of the other points when you wrote that article? I’ll be knocking on doors all day tomorrow, but can make time at night to write an article on a topic that all taxpayers should know about. I don’t know how it has escaped your paper’s attention till now (although your pedestrian editorial provides very obvious clues) but I guess late is better than never.

I look forward to hearing from you by return.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Dunne, Candidate
13th Legisaltive Distrcit

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Independent Candidate, letter to the editor, Sean Dunne

Randy Bishop, Candidate For NJ State Assembly District 11- Answers 10 Questions

Randy Bishop is the former Mayor of Neptune Township and is currently seeking 1 of 2 seats in the NJ State Assembly out of the 11th District.

Randy is the 4th State Assembly Candidate to return my questionnaire and by doing so he has joined his runningmate Rick Bolger, Jim Grenafege from Disitrict 13 and Independent Candidated Sean Dunne aslo from the 13th district as responders.
As I read through Randy’s responses I have a sense that the most important thing to him is public service.
As a small business owner and head of the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce, it is import to him that businesses not be strangle to the point they cannot exist.
1. What is your motivation for seeking a seat in the NJ State Assembly and can you tell us a little about yourself ?

I have been in public service from my participation in boards, my time as head of the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce and my time as committeeman and Mayor in Neptune Township. I believe that public service is the highest calling and that working to make a difference is what keeps us going and looking for solutions.

2. As you meet residents throughout your district what seems to be the greatest concerns they are expressing and how do you plan to address them?

Residents of this District are frustrated by high property taxes, the question of can they remain in a place they love or are they being priced out. I believe that we need to restructure government and am a believer in a State Constitutional Convention. There are those, mostly people who have power and do not want to give it up, but the system is broken. Layering patches on a broken system will not fix the underlying problems and that is what the legislature is tasked to do.

3. What do you hope to accomplish once you are elected to the State Assembly?

Bring back to this District the information, the help and the voice that it has been lacking in Trenton. Oddly, we hear so much that things cannot get done by the current Assembly persons because they are in the minority. Actually having served in the minority, I have still been able to raise issues, propose solutions and work toward making things better.

4. What is it that makes your district unique and how does that uniqueness impact your campaign?

This district is very diverse having some of the most urban areas in all of Monmouth County and as such has a unique set of challenges. While you look for solutions you must make sure that the one thing you think will solve one issue will create another somewhere else. But across all of this district it is common that we need job creation, less burden on businesses and equal educational opportunities for all of our residents.

5. If elected, how would your professional background enhance your ability to be an effective State Assembly representative?

As a small business owner and as a municipal elected official, I see what the edicts of Trenton do to the people of this district. I believe that I know challenges facing especially small businesses by owning one and by being the head of a Chamber of Commerce. We cannot continue to strangle the business community to the point they cannot exist or suffocate the residents under this tax burden.

6. Do you have any thoughts on how to contain the growth of state government?

We really must look at integration of functions. Each department replicates work in other departments. Also, I believe we must get back to what are we required to do, what do we need to do and make sure we are not funding the things we like to do. I also believe that it is time to end unfunded state mandates to municipalities.

7. Is there any aspect of state government that you believe there is a need to be expanded upon?

There are currently no needs for expansion that I can see..

8. Why should residents of your district trust you to represent them in the legislature?

I have a record of service, of creativity in problem solving that I feel the residents can trust. Its not just that I say what I will do, I do it.

9. Why do you identify yourself as a Democrat as opposed to a Republican or Independent?

I have always believed in the ideals and values of the Democratic Party. That doesn’t always mean I agree with the leaders and have stood up against them at times. I will always fight for those who need a voice. Government for most of us should just get out of the way. But sometimes, government is the only way to bring about an equitable solution.

10. Is there anything that is important to you that hasn’t been asked, that you would like to address?

Just that experience matters. Not experience in Trenton today, but experience in the trenches bot in business and in politics. I have worked in Washington DC on Capitol Hill, I have worked in start-up companies and in corporate America and now in owning my own business. I believe this gives me a unique view on problem solving and on working toward solutions.

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Filed under Candidates, Jim Grenafege, NJ State Assembly District 11, property taxes, Randy Bishop, Rick Bolger, Sean Dunne

13th District Assembly candidates cite economy, corruption in election campaigns


Two years ago, Republicans in Monmouth County had a tough fight on their hands as voters threw their support behind many Democratic candidates in a backlash against corruption charges touching a number of local and county Republican officials.

Still, in the 13th Assembly District, covering parts of Monmouth and Middlesex counties, Republican incumbents Amy Handlin and Sam Thompson hung on to their seats.

This year, independent candidate Sean Dunne and two Democrats, Robert Brown and James Grenafage, seeking Assembly seats in the 13th District have to contend with voter disgust over high property taxes and a collapsed economy — issues Republicans have pinned on Gov. Jon Corzine, the head of the Democratic ticket.

“People are upset with government as a whole,” said Brown. “We’ll be lucky if 50 percent of the voters come out in this election.”

But Brown said Democrats have made enough inroads into Monmouth County politics the past two years — he points to the first Democratic-controlled freeholder board in 23 years — to give him and his runningmate a good shot at unseating the incumbents.

Heading into Election Day as relative unknowns, the three challengers are trying to paint Handlin and Thompson as has-beens who have failed to respond to the needs of their constituents, particularly during the economic crisis.

For their part, Thompson and Handlin are telling constituents a vote for Democrats is a vote to continue Democratic policies they say have made life miserable for the average New Jersey resident.

“If they think the country, the state, the county or the town is going in the wrong direction, I should think they should feel there’s a need for a change,” Thompson said. “The Democrats have been in charge.”

A retired communications director for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Thompson, 74, said he’s in full agreement with former state treasurer John McCormac’s assessment that New Jersey has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. He said the state needs to prioritize its spending and think twice before providing funding for such things as stem cell research or local theaters.

“We’re the loyal opposition,” he said. “Most of the things they’re unhappy about we’ve been fighting against.”

Handlin, seeking her third term, got her political start in 1987 with her election to the Middletown Township Committee. Elected to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders in 1989, she held that seat until winning her state Assembly seat in 2005 after defeating longtime Republican incumbent Joseph Azzolina in the GOP primary.

An associate professor of marketing at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, Handlin, 53, has positioned herself as a corruption buster who has sponsored several pieces of legislation aimed at tightening laws governing political contributions and strictly curbing dual office holding.

She touts a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of the state budget to the rate of inflation and she supports a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to impose new taxes or raise existing ones.

She also wants state government to submit all bond and borrowing proposals to voters for approval.

Brown, 54, is a former Old Bridge police officer-turned attorney. He retired from the force after being shot in the hand and the shoulder by an assailant and uses his law practice to help disabled public employees gain disability benefits.

Grenafege, 60, is a career transition consultant who said the limping economy has made job creation and retention a priority for him and Brown. They’ve proposed expanding NJ STARS, a program providing tuition assistance for college students in certain areas of study, for advanced degrees.

They want the state to explore obtaining renewable energy through wave power and advocate redirecting a portion of revenue from the state sales tax to help reduce the school portion of property taxes.

Brown is pushing for an expansion of the “Senior Freeze” program, which freezes property taxes to certain residents over 65, to include empty-nesters.

Dunne, a Holmdel resident who has made anti-corruption the cornerstone of his campaign, calls himself “the best fighter that money can’t buy.”

He argues for term limits and contends his incumbent opponents have not pushed through meaningful legislation to combat corruption.

A graduate of James Madison University in Virginia, Dunne, 32, lived for nearly 10 years in Ireland, where he managed a sheep farm in County Kerry. A sociologist who has taken time off to write a book, Dunne participated in the European Union’s Rural Environmental Protection Scheme by advising farmers on how to use their land without damaging the local environment.
Dunne said he decided to get into politics because he doesn’t want to sit in an ivory tower when it comes to studying the ills of society. He said he wants to give voters a true third-party option.

“I strongly believe it can’t go on like this with the duopoly situation of Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “I have yet to meet someone who disagrees with my position — it’s getting people to move their eyes from the Republican, Democratic ticket. We need more choices because the choices are getting closer and closer together.”

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Bob Brown, Jim Grenafege,, Sean Dunne

Sean Dunne, Independent Candidate for NJ State Assembly District 13, Answers 10 Questions

Sean Dunne is the Independent Candidate for the NJ State Assembly District 13, and since he reached out to me a few weeks ago, I decided to send him a copy of the 10 questions that I had written and sent to other State Assembly candidates from Monmouth County.
I thought that it would be interesting to hear what he had to say and see if his answers would differ much from the other respondents once their questionnaire’s were returned.
The one response that I found interesting was his answer to question 4. Sam Thompson and Amy Handlin have received the endorsement from the environmental group, The Sierra Club eventhough Sam Thompson supports Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminals off the coast of Monmouth County and Amy Handlin had no position on it because she didn’t have a clue about it!
Sean Dunne opposes these terminals as does his Democratic oppennents Jim Grenafege and Bob Brown.

Since Sean was the second to respond, so he gets his answers published today:

1. What is your motivation for seeking a seat in the NJ State Assembly and can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was first interested in volunteering for someone else’s campaign, but I did not find any Independent candidates in the District. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that I could dedicate enough time and recruit enough volunteers to launch my own campaign.

I grew up in the area. I graduated from Holmdel High School, and I went on to attend James Madison University in Virginia. After graduation, I moved to Ireland where I lived for approximately ten years. I was involved in postgraduate studies, college lecturing and Irish agriculture. I obtained a Master’s Degree in Sociology at University College Dublin, and a PhD in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. I was also involved in the running of a family farm, which I was able to integrate into the European Union’s Rural Environmental Protection Scheme. I moved back to New Jersey last year.

2. As you meet residents throughout your district what seems to be the greatest concerns they are expressing and how do you plan to address them?

Property tax is a major concern. This needs to be addressed by implementing the necessary laws to reduce the very costly corruption problem in the state, and by cutting through the entrenched waste that taxpayers have to fund each year.

3. What do you hope to accomplish once you are elected to the State Assembly?

I want to put forward many of the “common sense” bills that many people want implemented. Both parties have refused to do this, and it’s time we get an Independent candidate in the Assembly to force the parties to take action or to admit they simply will not. If they take no action, then the voters will know who to vote out in the next elections.

4. What is it that makes your district unique and how does that uniqueness impact your campaign?

If District 13 does not help to protect the Jersey Shore, who will? We need to oppose the Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals proposed off the Jersey coastline. The Democratic candidates also oppose them, but Sam Thompson supports them, and Amy Handlin has stated that she “is still looking into them”.

5. If elected, how would your professional background enhance your ability to be an effective State Assembly representative?

I would draw upon my experience in Irish politics to suggest alternatives to certain practices that exist in government here. I also aim to incorporate insights from my own studies (environmental sociology) to policies that I would like to suggest here in New Jersey.

6. Do you have any thoughts on how to contain the growth of state government?

We need to break down the superfluous hierarchies found in areas that range from education to policing. This is critical. We need to abandon the placement of high-ranking officials in every area of government in every small town in New Jersey.

7. Is there any aspect of state government that you believe there is a need to be expanded upon?

The number one priority is cutting back various agencies of state government. This must be done first, as New Jersey simply cannot afford any more growth of state government. After this is done, we can examine areas that might need further aid.

8. Why should residents of your district trust you to represent them in the legislature ?

I am not involved in a political party that has had other members brought to prison for corrupt politics. Both Democrats and Republicans have. My campaign has received no donation of over $250 from anyone other than myself. I therefore answer only to my supporters, which lets me sleep well every night.

9. Why do you identify yourself as an Independent as opposed to a Republican or Democrat?

I’m an Independent because I feel that both parties haven’t done enough, and I feel the current electoral system is undemocratic. Both established parties benefit from their duopoly, and this needs to be attacked at its very base.

10. Is there anything that is important to you that I hasn’t been asked, that you would like to address?

-We need to cut salaries and benefits for this position. It is a part-time job that pays $48,000 a year with benefits. I’d slash the benefits and reduce the pay to $35,000 a year.
-We need mandatory minimum sentences for corrupt politicians and we need term limits.
-We need to review all of the undemocratic policies and structures that both Republicans and Democrats enforce that keep smaller parties and Independents out of office.

To learn more about Sean Dunne visit his website @

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Amy Handlin, Bob Brown, Holmdel NJ, Independent Candidate, Jim Grenafege, Monmouth County, Sam Thompson, Sean Dunne

Independent Candidate for NJ State Assembly District 13, Sean Dunne

For the benefit of those who live in New Jersey’s 13th Legislative District and in the spirit of being “fair and balanced”, I thought that I should let people know that there is a 3rd party candidate seeking to upset Republicans Amy Handlin or Fred Thompson for their seat in the State Assembly.

Holmdel resident Sean Dunne is running as an Independent this year.

Sean sent me an email, reaching out, in hopes that I would give him and his campaign a mention. He said a few nice things about me and the MiddletownMike blog in his email (let’s just say he knows how to be politically correct).

I responded back to Mr. Dunne by letting him know upfront that I was a democrat and that I would be supporting his Democratic opponents Jim Grenafege and Bob Brown while I pointing out to him that his positions on the issues weren’t that different from Jim’s and Bob’s.
He responded with some nice words of understanding and goods words for both Jim and Bob and added:
You and I do have something in common. We both want Handlin out. I personally think Thompson has been there far too long, and I just think that Handlin has done nothing, besides raise fines for underage drinking at the arts center. Here’s my point: If Handlin rushed out legislation to punish underage drinking after the unfortunate event at the Arts Center, why has she not done anything meaningful to punish corruption when it happened right under her nose? I have noticed that Democrats do focus on Handlin, and I can understand why….”
So with that, I decided I would thank him for his good words and tell you a little about him and his campaign.
His “bio”, which can be read at his website states;

“…Sean grew up in Monmouth County, New Jersey. He attended Monmouth County schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. After graduating from James Madison University, Sean moved to Ireland where he lived for nearly ten years. He completed postgraduate work that led to the completion of his Doctorate in Sociology in July, 2008….”

On the issues, Sean would like to see mandatory minimum sentences for corrupt politicians and term limits. He would like to end the careers of political entrepreneurs – those who see public office as a financial opportunity and he feels that members of the State Assembly are over paid for the part-time work that they do. He feels that at $45,000 a year, Assembly members are over paid. Their salaries should be immediately cut to $35,000 which would save the State $800,000 annually.
Sean Dunne also sent along this letter to the editor that he wished for me to post:

As an Independent Candidate for State Assembly in District 13, I have
had the opportunity to speak with many people who live in our area.
Many are disenchanted and disillusioned by the rotten corruption that
sits at the heart of New Jersey politics. No amount of advertising
from Republicans or Democrats is capable of convincing voters that
either party has taken the necessary steps to prevent the corrupt
practices that several members of both parties have engaged in
throughout the years.

Albert Einstein told us that “The world is a dangerous place, not
because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do
nothing”. I’ve asked the people at their doorsteps if Assemblyman
Thompson or Assemblywoman Handlin of this District have done anything
to end the culture of corruption in New Jersey. Their answer has
consistently been, “no”. Voters can do something about the corruption
that raises the already high cost of living in our state. They can
vote for an Independent that will fight the rancid corruption that has
been found within both political parties. I ask all readers who also
believe that Republicans and Democrats “look on and do nothing” about
the issue of corruption to join our fight and vote Sean Dunne for
State Assembly on November 3rd.

Dr. Sean Dunne

I would like to wish my new friend Sean Dunne good luck in his quest for the State Assembly. His positions on issues are not that much different from my own thinking and those of his Democratic opponents. In the future it would be nice if Sean Dunne, Jim Grenafege and Bob Brown could work together to help solve issues that effect the 13th district and New Jersey as a whole.

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Amy Handlin, Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate, Fred Thompson, Holmdel NJ, Independent Candidate, Jim Grenafege, Monmouth County, Republicans, Sean Dunne