IT’S LONG v. KALAKA-ADAMS IN SEA BRIGHT

jo-ann-kalaka-adamsFormer Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, seen here in 2007, will face councilwoman Dina Long, below, in this year’s mayoral election. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

dina-long-2011Seeing an opportunity to keep progress moving, Councilwoman Dina Long is seeking Sea Bright’s top elected spot.

Long, who teaches English composition at Brookdale Community College, has filed to run for mayor, filling the Democratic party’s ticket following current mayor Maria Fernandes’s announcement last week that she will not seek re-election.

The three-term councilwoman will go up against a former mayor in November, Republican Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, who’s making a return to politics after a narrow loss that was contested and drawn out for months in court.

Long, 41, says she decided to run when Fernandes said she was going to retire from politics. She’s seen three mayoral candidates since first winning election in 2003, and said she’s gained a thorough understanding¬† of what it takes to take the lead role on the dais.

“I feel I can work across party lines and through state and federal bureaucracy to get things done,” she said. “This is the kind of leadership we need to accomplish our goals in Sea Bright.”

An advocate of protecting the borough’s beachfront and a self-described fiscal conservative, Long said she wants to continue the progress of Fernandes while keeping spending down. She often plays the intermediary at council meetings when tempers flare between Fernandes and Councilman Read Murphy, who’s running for re-election.

“The days of petty partisan politics need to come to an end,” she said. “I just want to get things done.”

Kalaka-Adams could not be reached for comment.

She makes her return to politics after a three-vote loss to Fernandes in 2007. Kalaka-Adams fought the vote count for months by filing a suit with the state Superior Court, citing improper voting procedures. The case, believed to be one of the longest post-balloting disputes in New Jersey, eventually flamed out with little or no explanation.

Long said she anticipates a well-fought race. In a Republican-heavy town, she’s relying on her record more than her party affiliation to win votes.

“If people vote party then I might as well stay home all year,” she said. “If people vote person, not party, I’ve got a shot.”