in borough election
By elaine van develde
TINTON FALLS — The first time was a charm for Borough Council candidate Brendan Tobin.
The 40-year-old resident of 5 Chestnut Court ran for public office and won a seat on the council dais with the most votes garnered by any candidate in the nonpartisan election May 13.
There were three four-year seats up for grabs with six candidates, three incumbents and three newcomers, running. The incumbents were council President LuAnn Catlin, and council members Therese Cahill and Michael Daly. The newcomers were Tobin and write-in candidates Carl DeAngelis and John Seth Murphy.
Daly was ousted by Tobin’s win. With 16 percent, or 1,537, voters showing up at the polls out of 9,656 registered in the borough, Tobin brought in 932 votes. Catlin garnered 849 votes and Cahill brought in 839. Daly received 735 votes. DeAngelis got 432 votes, and Murphy brought in the least amount, 420.
This will be Catlin’s third term on the council. The 47-year-old resident of 427 Riverdale Ave. West was first elected in 1995 and became council president when Richard Maher resigned in 2001.
Cahill, 41, lives at 78 Edgebrook Court. She is a registered nurse in the emergency room at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch.
"I’m thrilled that Therese (Cahill) and I were re-elected, and disappointed in Mr. Daly’s defeat and the low voter turnout," Catlin said. "I think some of the misinformation circulated contributed to the way the number of votes fell. Mr. Daly, I feel, was probably targeted, and for all the wrong reasons. None having anything to do with his role on council. I think he did a great job. He’s a huge supporter of Little League and recreation. The loss won’t deter that or his devotion to Tinton Falls.
"The misinformation put out by the opposition was factually incorrect and easily refuted," she added.
That opposition was Tobin, DeAngelis and Murphy. After garnering the most votes in the election, Tobin had his own theory for his win.
President of his own planning and strategy company, The Tobin Group, he called his win a testament to the public’s desire for "new blood" on the dais.
"Sixty percent of the people casting a ballot voted for me," he said. "It tells me that people have a lot of confidence in me. It also tells me that people really felt the need for new blood on the borough’s governing body.
"There’s a lot of talent there," he said. "I’ve heard people say the council doesn’t listen. I don’t think they don’t listen. Sometimes it’s just a case of people and council members just being uninformed."
Tobin’s campaign manager, Michael Laffey, who was recently elected to the Board of Education, agreed with Tobin’s view.
"Tobin’s win as the top vote-getter sent a message to municipal government that people are unhappy with the status quo," Laffey said.
Tobin said communication, and planning and strategy are his strong suits in business and he can easily apply them to the public service sector.
Major campaign issues, on both the challengers’ and incumbents’ sides, were development and taxation.
When it comes to curbing overdevelopment, Tobin said, "strategy and planning for the future are key. This town is worth fighting for. Through proper planning and pooling ideas, we can move this town toward the future the right way. We don’t want it overdeveloped.
"Ratings of towns in this area have come out. On the top of the lists are the towns surrounding Tinton Falls, but Tinton Falls is not on any ‘best’ list. It should be. It could be," he said.
Tobin added that some things, such as tax abatements for businesses that would count as high ratables, look good on paper but can be a farce in reality.
"We have to figure out how to do things without hurting the town," he said. "Attracting ratables sounds good and looks good, but in the end it means drawing more development. These businesses also require more municipal services, which means more expense. There may not be school kids, but services cost, too. There has to be a better balance or a way to grow without tugging on the public’s purse strings."
Catlin said there is misinformation fueling fights over tax facts. She said the council is doing everything in its power to cut the proposed 12.9-cent tax hike before the budget is adopted. The public hearing on the budget was scheduled for Tuesday night.
"There’s a lot more to municipal government than people think," Catlin said. "It’s not just all meetings. There are processes and public hearings and people to answer to.
"We are a mayor-strong governing body. The council supports the mayor and we make decisions based on input from the public," she said. "It’s important to understand the process. Sometimes people don’t and they jump to conclusions. This is why I encourage meeting attendance and staying informed. I’m always happy to explain a process, so there’s no confusion over an important issue and people know their rights."
"We all respect voters’ decisions. Even people who don’t get to the polls to vote have a right, as taxpayers, to voice their concerns and have input when it comes to issues that affect them in the town in which they live. We are there to address concerns for the long haul," she said.