Red Bank Councilman John Curley has thrown his name in for consideration by Republican powerbrokers as a potential candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder in November, Curley has confirmed to the the Hub.

In the current edition, the weekly reports that Curley sent a letter of intent declaring his candidacy for freeholder Jan. 24, prior to Freeholder William C. Barham’s announcment that announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Curley tells Hub reporter Melissa Karsh that he hopes to bring a fresh face and voice to the county with his nomination.

“I believe that Monmouth County is going through a period of revolution, that the Republican Party needs some stability and I feel that I’m not beholden to anyone so I can go out as a fresh voice and fresh spirit and be beneficial,” said Curley Monday.

He added, “I’m putting my name out there and seeing how it plays out. I truly believe that if the Republican Party in the county wants to change then they will choose me because I am someone who brings forth change.”

He also says that if he fails in his bid, he’ll stand for re-election to the borough seat he won as a Democrat in 2002 before changing parties. And if he wins at the county, he won’t seek re-election to the council, where he’s one of two Republicans, along with Grace Cangemi, on the six-member body.

“I would never put myself in a conflict of interest and serve in two public offices,” he tells the Hub.

As the sole member of the opposition for much of his time on the council, Curley frequently found himself in volcanic arguments with then-Mayor Ed McKenna — a former running mate. In the 15 months since he lost his own mayoral bid to Pasquale Menna, Curley has become more tempered, though he spars regularly with Councilman Mike DuPont, a Democrat.

Curley’s changed parties at least three times since entering politics three decades ago, and his attraction to the county Republican machinery would appear to signal yet another change of thinking. He explained his views on party politics in an interview that redbankgreen ran Oct. 18, 2006, during the last mayoral race:

What does it mean to you to be a member of the Republican Party?

Curley: I find to be a Republican or a Democrat on the local level means nothing. Because local elections should all be non-partisan. At the local level, there’s no majority leader, no minority whip. Local elections should be free for people to just step up and run, where they don’t have to have the endorsement of a party.

You know, one of the greatest prejudices that’s out there is political labels. I would walk up to doors when I was a Democrat, and people would say, “You’re a Democrat? God, I can’t vote for you.” And I’ve walked up to doors as a Republican—“Hit the road, Jack!”

Do you feel that you’re connected to the national party?


So you don’t necessarily support the President, as the head of the party, and what you do doesn’t necessarily reflect the party’s views?

Absolutely correct.

Do you feel connected to the Republican Party at the county level?

I have no affiliations with the county party. I’m never going to fit in that puzzle anywhere. That’s just the nature of the person. I am a very independent thinker, and I emphasize that to the two people who are running with me [council candidates Grace Cangemi and David Pallister]. I say, “Help me, because I don’t know everything, and I need your experience and your direction in life to help me.” I’ve got two very good people there.

So it’s a flag of convenience for you to call yourself a Republican?

Well, it’s a flag of convenience if you use the term loosely. It sounds negative, and I don’t mean it to sound negative. It takes an awful lot of money to run for public office, and you really need, under the present system, to have some affiliation to get in the [ballot] column. Otherwise you get stuck out in Timbuktu.

You ran (and lost) for the Shrewsbury Borough Council as a Democrat when you were 21, and later became a Republican. Then you switched back and became president of Red Bank Democratic Club. Last year, after having been elected to the Red Bank Council as a Democrat, you switched again and won re-election as a Republican. Some people might say you were a carpetbagger, to be quite blunt about it.

On the surface, it certainly appears to be.

Well, what do you say to that?

I saw what was going on in the Democratic Party. I’d been on the zoning board, and I’d started noticing that a lot of these deals were going through very easily. And I started looking at things, like campaign donations, and I saw what I call stinky politics.

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