Howell Mayor Robert Walsh has been named as one of four candidates vying for a seat on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
According to the website of the Monmouth County Affiliated Republican Club, Walsh will be running against Holmdel Deputy Mayor Serena DiMaso, Atlantic Highlands Councilman Peter T. Doyle and Manalapan Township Committeeman Ryan Green in the Jan. 14 election.
The seat has become available since Freeholder Director Robert D. Clifton was elected to the state Assembly with time left on his term. The winner of the Jan. 14 election will take his seat and run to fill the rest of his term in the 2013 election.
Having served on the council in Howell for seven years, Walsh said he believes he is prepared to use his abilities at the county level. "I've had to make many tough decisions with the governing body of Howell Township being that we are in the toughest recession that we will hopefully ever see in our entire lives," he said. "I believe our toughest decisions lie before us."
If elected to the freeholder board, Walsh said he would have to resign from the council, but believes the members of the governing body are ready to tackle the challenges of the future if he is to depart. "I believe the governing body is very well prepared to continue to make the tough decisions that may not always be the most popular," he said.
Walsh said he believes his ability to be fiscally conservative will help him at the county level as well. "You don't have to wonder about why I make the decisions I do," he said. "I'm perfectly clear to everybody when I make a decision why I'm making the decisions I make," he said.
Having spoken around the county as part of the election process, Walsh said he hopes to have the chance to represent the people of such a wide and different area. "Monmouth County is a very diverse county and there are definitely different needs for different parts of the county," he said.
No matter where they are in the county, Walsh said the economy is a factor all over the area. "We must right the financial ship," he said. "Monmouth County has done a very good job of making it a great place to live and make a family but the financial house has to be put back in order."
In a letter posted on the club's site, Walsh explains his desire to run. "Since starting my career in politics seven years ago, it has become blatantly clear to me that politics has got to get back to being about the people we serve and not the position we hold," he said. "In these difficult times, we need leadership who can make the tough decisions and do what's best for the people."
Walsh first took his seat on the dais in Jan. of 2006 and served as deputy mayor in 2008 before being elected mayor in 2009. He serves as the founder and president of Center State Mortgage.
Special elections to replace a Freeholder candidate "don't happen that often," according to Wayne Pomanowski, the president of the club. On Saturday, Jan. 14 at Colts Neck High School, Republican representatives of Monmouth County’s voting districts, in 52 municipalities, will be called to the convention to cast ballots.
The vote is tabulated on the spot and a winner is declared. The swearing-in is held the following week.
"They're all good candidates," said Pomanowski. "Doyle is a bright fellow, with a military background. Walsh, from Howell is a very well-liked guy with a good heart who saved his town a lot of money. Green is deputy mayor in Manalapan, a smart guy and well spoken. DiMaso is also a very well spoken woman, and she's an attorney. I don't think there is anybody who can clearly say it's 'their' race," he said.
On Friday, Jan. 13, all four will speak at a "Meet the Candidates Night" at Doolan's Shore Club in Spring Lake Heights.
Walsh has lived in Monmouth County since 1965 and graduated from Manalapan High School in 1976. He went to Brookdale Community College and West Texas State University, now known as West Texas A&M University. He is married to his wife Michelle and they have three children.