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ARREST LEADS DEMS TO REPLACE CANDIDATE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Middletown Democratic Committee named a replacement for former township committee candidate Alex DeSevo Friday, just hours after he tendered his resignation from the race under a cloud of scandal.

Taking DeSevo’s spot is Carol Fowler, of Lincroft, said Joe Caliendo, the party’s chairman.

“We were after her for quite a while,” Caliendo said. “She’s a good-speaking woman, good personality. She sounds like she’s laid back but she’s not.”

DeSevo, a 43-year-old criminal defense attorney who lives on West Front Street, submitted his resignation after he was arrested on drug possession charges and accused of chasing a woman from a Holmdel motel nearly two weeks ago.

On Thursday night, the Democrat committee held a meeting to whittle a pool of candidates down to one, and Fowler, who the committee had been courting in recent years, stepped up to take DeSevo’s place. She’ll run alongside challenger Jim Grenafege in November’s election to try and wrest two seats from the Republican-controlled township committee.

The sudden opportunity put Fowler, a volunteer with Lincroft’s First Aid Squad and assistant curator at the National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt, in quick-decision mode, she said.

“I just never saw myself doing this. It took me one night to think about it and I thought, I could do this,” she said. “I’m just a middle-class person. I’m not a millionaire. I’m highly offended that our tax dollars aren’t being put to good use.”

Although DeSevo’s arrest and subsequent media coverage shone an unwanted light on the township’s minority party, and perhaps was a black eye to its members, Caliendo said he considers DeSevo’s problems his own now, not the party’s. On to the November race, he said.

“As far as Alex goes, he made a major, major mistake in his life and he’s going to pay for it,” Caliendo said. “But he’s not a candidate anymore.”

In a phone interview Friday, Fowler, 52, reiterated what she told members of the party upon her selection Thursday night.

“I know you had quite a hard time but it doesn’t have to stay that way,” she said.

Caliendo said Fowler gives the Democrats a chance to regain at least a small amount of power in town, which was lost when the last Democrat to sit on the committee, Sean Byrnes, was narrowly defeated in 2010. And like Byrnes, Fowler said she’s “disgusted” by township spending and intends to pursue televising committee meetings.

“This woman, she’s got it,” Caliendo said. “She’s not just somebody we threw out there. We’ve got a good shot at winning this year.”

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