With the primary election set for tomorrow one Howell resident is hoping to pick up a win that will allow him to represent his town and his state in Washington DC.
Terrence McGowan is running against Congressman Chris Smith in the Republican Primary for the state's fourth congressional district.
Before moving to Howell in 2001 McGowan, a Maryland native, had served in the Navy Seals, worked as a volunteer firefighter in Plainsboro and a police officer in Somerville. He also worked in Iraq as a civilian contractor and currently works for a software company that deals with law enforcement.
This election marks McGowan's first entrance into politics but he said he believes he can make a difference if elected to congress. "I didn't want to just get into politics," he said. With the lessons he has learned in law enforcement and the military he feels he can apply that to the national stage.
McGowan said he believes being a political newcomer is not a negative when running against a longtime incumbent like Smith. One of his major platforms on the campaign trail has been what he calls "radical tax reform. "I call myself a constitutional conservative," he said. "If you're in the workforce and living above the poverty line you should be paying some of the tax burden."
Calling himself, "a patriot," McGowan said he is also, "not a big fan of government." He added, "I think the government is here to serve us not the other way around."
Since his campaign started McGowan said he has been encouraged by the support he has received. "The two things that seem to get people the most excited are as soon as they hear I'm running against a 30 year incumbent, or if they hear the Seal part of my resume," he said. "That seems to resonate.
He may not have the name recognition of his opponent but McGowan said other avenues like social media have helped to raise awareness of his candidacy. That includes a Facebook page and a website for the campaign.
On the campaign trail McGowan said he has worked with those who consider themselves Republican as well as members of the Tea Party saying they have more in common than differences. "The only difference between the two is the Tea Party is fed up with just voting along the Republican line," he said. "For so long it has just been lets maintain the status quo. Lets hold onto the seat and not take any chances."
Looking for voters to take a chance on him, McGowan said he has been excited about the election process. "Everything I'm doing and saying falls right in line with the Republican Party and the Tea Party is just a matter of how we go about doing it."
McGowan said he is excited about the possibility of representing the town he has called home for the past 11 years as well as the fourth district as a whole. "In all the jobs I've had, I've always been a representative of sorts," he said of his time in the military and law enforcement. "I've always been very keenly aware of the responsibilities that come with being a representative of a group of people."
In addition to the congressional primary, Tuesday's election also features a race between William Field and Cochise Doucette for the in the November election. Field was selected to run on the official Monmouth County Party line according to township Democratic Party chairman Steve Morlino.
Deputy Mayor William Gotto is running unopposed on the Republican side and will run to replace Mayor Robert Walsh who decided not to run for another term. Edward Guz is also running for the council seat currently held by Councilman Juan Malave who also opted not to run again. Tuesday is also the deadline for independent candidates to submit petitions for the November ballot.
Unlike previous years the November election will also include the board of education ballot. Tuesday is also the deadline for those candidates to file as well.