JACKSON-In a stark contrast to 2019’s election in Toms River where the campaign of Maurice “Mo” Hill for Mayor embraced and sought out support by the township growing Orthodox Jewish community population, in neighboring Jackson where three council seats are up for grabs, it’s a different story.
In Jackson, it appears to be an all-out war between the Orthodox Jewish Community, who mostly lean Republican in the polls and the township’s local Republican Club.
The Jackson club has been plagued with resignations over what some have deemed inappropriate and sometimes anti-Semitic comments. Club officials have denied these claims, but the casualty report is growing almost daily.
Last month, Councilman Robert Nixon, who is a defendant in two federal lawsuits and under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice, along with others on the governing body announced his resignation from the township council.
Before that, in a move that appeared to be orchestrated within the club’s internal structure, longtime Republican club members Joseph Sullivan, Sheldon Hoffstein and Richard Egan were forced to resign from their positions on the planning board and zoning boards after their attendance at a meeting that opposed an application by an Orthodox Jewish builder was recorded and published on the Lakewood Scoop. While the three men have all publicly stated their attendance at the meeting was only to observe, they were forced to resign by party insiders.
Last month, Jackson Planning Board member Jeffrey Riker was forced to recuse himself from an application hearing before the board by an Orthodox Jewish developer who sought to build a 300 plus home development along South Hope Chapel Road near the Manchester border.
This week, members of the community are calling for the resignations of Clara Glory, the GOP County Committee Chairwoman for Jackson and Todd Porter, the club’s president.
In an op-ed entitled, “The Jackson GOP is driven by Hate” on the Lakewood Scoop a call for Glory’s resignation who also is a staffer for New Jersey Senator Ron Dancer, Vice President of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce and a commissioner on the Jackson Municipal Utilities Authority was made.
A post made on Facebook by another user referring to Orthodox Jews read, “They are all crooks and should be deported they serve no good interest to America. People better start waking up before it’s too late.”
It was followed by a post by another user that read, “There [sic] a cult.”
Glory followed those posts with her own assessment after another user called for posters to stop stereotyping members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
“NO STEREOTYPING HERE.. FACTS ARE FACTS… THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT JACKSON RESIDENTS FEAR. AND YES IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING,” Glory wrote. The posts were made several years ago, but just recently surfaced online.
Orthodox Jewish leadership in Lakewood and Jackson have reportedly called upon Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman to take action against one of his key political allies. Glory was the driving force behind Holman becoming chairman by rallying her Jackson committee and adding Holman voters to the committee roster days before the election. Glory is one of Holman’s top players in the new structure of the Ocean County GOP.
Todd Porter, the Jackson GOP Club President who also serves on the Jackson MUA board of directors also came under fire this week after a post surfaced from his past where he offered to play “death metal…for a fee” to scare “out of towners” out of Jackson parks.
In a Lakewood Scoop story entitled, “Jackson GOP President Offered to Play Satanic Music to Scare Jewish Kids Out of Public Parks“, a post surfaced on Facebook where residents were upset over the presence of Jewish families showing up at township parks.
“For a fee I will head to random parks and blast Thrash Metal during daylight hours. I’m sure Slayer will keep the out of towners away,” Porter said.
Members of the Orthodox Jewish community took offense to Porter’s off-color joke because Slayer is sometimes classified as a “Satanic” band because of its album art work, song themes and logo, which is a pentagram. One of Slayer’s songs refers to Joseph Mengele, a Nazi scientist who experimented on Jews during the Holocaust.
“It is frightful that a man who feels that religious children playing in township parks should be threatened by loud anti-semitic, nazi-themed music holds such an influential and powerful position in a town like Jackson here in the twenty-first century.” said a letter published by the Lakewood Scoop.
A post by a user name “njhatewatch” read, “Imagine if the comment would’ve been about scaring away African American children with white power music. Does anyone think this guy would’ve ever dared say such a thing? Would it have been tolerated? Would he still be employed by the GOP?”
According to Rise Up Ocean County, a group sometimes seen as in opposition with the Orthodox Jewish community claimed Jewish leaders called Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman to handle the matter with Glory.
“All power players in Lakewood, all big donors and all calling for Fredo (Councilman Ken Bressi) to be spared and not only reappointed to the planning board but supported for re-election next year. It wasn’t until late in the day when the Don himself called, oh to be a fly on the wall for that conversation,” Rise Up Ocean County said. “Aaron Kotler spoke with Holman and made it clear the Bressi was a friend deserving of Holman’s support.”
On Sunday, Rise Up Ocean County joined the Orthodox Jewish community and called for the resignation of Porter.
“We can count on one hand, okay only one finger, how many times we have found ourselves in agreement with the Lakewood Scoop or a letter writer to the Scoop. This is it,” Rise Up Ocean County said. “Todd Porter should resign from the Jackson Township MUA.”
Rise Up Ocean County said they weren’t upset with Porter’s comments made on Facebook, but about his behavior as a commissioner on the Jackson MUA.
“No, Porter should not resign because he is a raging anti-Semite, however he should resign because when he or any member of the MUA is challenged by a member of the public, he behaves like a petulant child that isn’t getting his way,” they said. “We have witnessed foot stomping, table pounding fits resulting in condescending attitudes toward concerned citizens. When an environmental scientist is explaining reasons why the MUA might want to reconsider a decision, it’s best not to behave like you didn’t get a lollipop Todd.”
Chairman Holman has ignored Shore News Network’s requests for comment on this matter and to date, neither Glory nor Porter have resigned from their public positions with the MUA or with the Jackson Republican Club.
In 2018, Jackson’s 1,200 or so registered Orthodox Jewish voters generally supported Republican Mayor Michael Reina. Heading into a mayoral midterm election in 2020 where one of the incumbents recently resigned and the club is at war with the other incumbent, Ken Bressi, those votes could be up in the air. By some estimates the number of Orthodox Jewish voters in Jackson could reach as high as 3,000 by November.