TOMS RIVER-President Donald J. Trump commanded a 32% victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, making Toms River the 8th “Trumpiest” towns in New Jersey, but a victory for Toms River Councilman, Republican Maurice Hill was a bitter fight to the end against his opponent, Democrat Jonathan Petro.
Toms River is also the county seat of one of, if not the reddest counties in the blue state of New Jersey. We often refer to Ocean County as the Alamo of Republican values in New Jersey.
Hill defeated Petro by just over 1%, despite spending an estimated quarter of a million dollars campaigning for the office in 2019, starting with a heated 3-way primary race.
To defend the mayor’s seat and three Republican council seats, the Ocean County GOP had to go all-in in Toms River which left nearby Brick Township defenseless against a continual dominance by Democrats in that town.
Hill won by just 261 votes out of 22,091 votes cast. He won most of the northern and western districts in his town where the Orthodox Bloc vote was united behind Hill’s team.
Hill celebrated his victory with the Ocean County Republicans, then brought his campaign victory party to neighboring Lakewood Township.
Many longtime residents in Toms River felt abandoned by Hill’s campaign platform which seemed to cater to overdevelopment in North Dover, where he received nearly unanimous support from the region’s growing population of Orthodox Jews. During the campaign, Hill published a newspaper criticizing council candidate Karin Sage because the law firm she worked for was hired by Agudath Israel of America to sue neighboring Jackson Township.
The night of his election, Hill and running mate Kevin Geoghegan (photo above, courtesy of Rise Up Ocean County) celebrated their victory with Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey chapter.
Hill’s campaign sent voters many mixed messages, leaving many in the dark about his plans for over-development in Toms River, religious land use laws and a plan to build downtown Toms River into a small city with buildings possibly up to 10 stories tall.