RUMSON: WRITE-IN DRIVE HEATS UP ELECTION

rumson writein 110313A write-in campaign for two candidates billing themselves as the Rumson Family ticket emerged in the wake of the Oxford House controversy last month. Below, Tim McCooey at the October 22 borough council meeting, the night before he became a candidate. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tim mccooey 102213If the trend over the past century holds on Election Day, Rumson will seat an all-Republican borough council in January.

Ah, but which Republicans?

In a development that may add drama to Rumson’s usual election-night snoozer, two political newcomers have mounted an eleventh-hour write-in campaign, hoping to harness what they say is frustration with their party’s incumbents.

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Running under the Rumson Family ticket, Tim McCooey and Tom Ridgway launched their campaign on October 23, the day after a they and other residents packed a town council meeting with concerns about Oxford House, a drug-and-alcohol recovery residence on South Ward Avenue.

Unknown to many borough residents, the house began operating in August, with no notice to the borough government or neighbors. Its presence came to light following the drug overdose death of a 25-year-old resident on October 13.

The McCooey/Ridgway campaign was “galvanized,” according to their press material, “by the council’s lack of response to residents’ concerns about a suspicious death at a new addiction recovery house in the West Park section.”

In an interview Sunday, however, McCooey sought to downplay the significance of Oxford House as the impetus for the campaign, which drew 125 residents to a rally at Molly Maguire’s Gastropub last Wednesday night. While the issue may be the top priority for many supporters of the write-in drive, “there’s much more to why we run than a single issue,” McCooey told redbankgreen.

“There’s not a single impetus,” he said. “It’s really a culmination of things. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a couple of issues that have opened our eyes.”

He said residents have been feeling “powerless” before town boards. The campaign’s website says the current administration lacks transparency.

“It’s as if the council is out of touch with today’s Rumson family,” Ridgway said in a press release. “I appreciate their service but their best years may be behind them.”

On the ballot are Democrats Michael Steinhorn and Philip Wagner; incumbent Republican Joe Hemphill; and zoning board member Laura Atwell, also a Republican. Incumbent Republican Joan DeVoe is not seeking re-election.

No Democrat is believed to have been elected to office in the town’s now-106-year-long history, according to this story in redbankgreen‘s archive.