By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Backing off an assertion at the beginning of the year that she’ll be back for a mayoral race, Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes said Wednesday she will not seek a second term.
“I served the council and the town very well,” Fernandes, 58, said. “I put in a number of years in this town and my accomplishments were good. It’s time for me to go.”
Fernandes, a Democrat who’s recovering from a partial leg amputation, did not give any specific reason for her decision, other than wanting to focus more on her personal life.
“For all these years I’ve always put Sea Bright and the residents first,” she said. “Now I can put my life and my issues first, and Sea Bright second.”
Fernandes first came into politics 16 years ago as a member of the planning and zoning board. She served 10 years on the borough council before narrowly winning a mayoral race against incumbent Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams a race that saw a recount and court action by Kalaka-Adams.
In going over her tenure at borough hall, Fernandes highlighted several important projects in which she was integral, including a sewer rehabilitation in her first year on the council, major upgrades to the downtown’s infrastructure about five years ago and a shared-service agreement with Oceanport for municipal court services.
“I have pretty significant accomplishments,” she said. “I’m leaving on top of my game, and on my terms.”
Fernandes also touted her non-partisanship while serving as mayor. She’s been outspoken in recent months, upbraiding council members for playing party politics and accusing some of having conflicts of interest.
Fernandes, who is retired and lives with her mother, took another dig Wednesday.
“I’m really not a political person,” she said. “I was in a unique position because I didn’t have any conflict at all. I don’t have a kid that’s a cop or a cousin that’s a head of an engineering firm. So I only voted on the issues and what was best for Sea Bright, not what was best for my family and things like that.”
Yet to be seen is a replacement on the Democratic ballot. Committee Chairwoman Susie Markson said the news is still fresh, and she’s not ready to comment on a potential candidate.
Also up for re-election this year are Republican council members Read Murphy and James LoBiondo.