by Phil Stilton
TOMS RIVER-Politics in Ocean County has traditionally been run by a group often called “The Good Old Boys Network“, a group of aging lawyers and professionals on both sides of the political aisle that deal politics like decks of cards.
As the Goold Old Boys “age out”, opportunities open for the next generation of Ocean County residents seeking office to grab the reigns of the county’s future. Ocean County’s political scene is dominated by elderly men who work in the legal, financial and financial fields and those who survive solely off government-funded patronage jobs.
This year, Generation X has a chance to move in on the good old boys in Toms River as they have done in Brick in recent years.
Political newcomer Susan Pontoriero is hoping to shake things up here. Pontoriero is a 39-year-old attorney and volunteer soccer coach. She faces a well-entrenched and formidable opponent in the name of Thomas Kelaher, an 83-year-old political veteran and former Ocean County prosecutor who, according to many within the Republican circles was asked not to run for re-election this year.
Pontoriero is a first generation Italian American who lives in Silverton. Earlier this spring, Pontoriero garnered support and launched a successful write-in campaign during the primary election.
She will be on the ballot in November, as confirmed by Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella.
Tom Kelaher has led Toms River for the past 8 years and through the difficult time after Hurricane Sandy. He has been the face of the Toms River effort to rebuild after the devastating 2012 hurricane. Kelaher ran his law firm for 49 years and was appointed to his first political appointment back in 1963, more than 10 years before Pontoriero was born.
Photo courtesy Jersey Shore Insider.