TOMS RIVER, NJ – Last Tuesday, Toms River Councilwoman, Democrat Laurie Huryk used her council comment time at the end of the bi-weekly public town meeting to discuss racial inequality in her town. Huryk said that Toms River’s population of whites, compared to its African-American population is 82% to just 3%.
“We need to take a look at ourselves to examine what we can do as a community to make Toms River more inviting to a greater diversity of individuals to better reflect the population of our state and that of the United States,” Huryk said.
Of course, Huryk did not give any recommendations on how she intends to shift Toms River to a less white population or talk about which programs or incentives she proposes to implement to draw in new African American residents.
The issue is a complex one, but one of the easiest places to start is on the council itself. There are 7 members of the township council in Toms River, one mayor, one business administrator, one clerk and God knows how many lawyers that must attend the bi-weekly meetings every two weeks.
None of them are African American.
In fact, when Huryk ran for office three years ago, she ran with a wealthy white lawyer, a white school teacher and another white woman. Her ticket had absolutely no diversity in it. Now, here she is three years later, in light of the George Floyd murder and, a very successful Black Lives Matter parade and protest in her town pandering for votes, but once again with out action.
So what can Toms River do to become more inclusive?
First, Huryk can start with her own position on the Toms River Council. If she is that determined to right the wrong of society in her town, she can make the first bold move and resign her seat so the Democrat party can put a person of color on the township council. Around here, we call that putting your money where your mouth is.
How else is a body of white middleaged men and women going to decide how to make their community more inclusive? Instead, Huryk will eventually suggest a multicultural board full of volunteers in the community to talk for years at roundtable discussions, with nothing ever really getting done. It’s how the government works.
Huryk can start her diversity initiative from the top and show the world she is serious about her latest liberal hot topic agenda item. The move would put Toms River on the map as a town that is absolutely serious about diversity and inclusion and show that Huryk’s Democrat Party is about more than just latching on to hot-topic social issues ahead of political campaigns.
What can we do about the disparity in the racial makeup in Toms River?
We can start with the town leaders acknowledging that one of the main reasons Toms River never attracted the same African American populations as nearby Lakewood and South Toms River is because it does have an ugly history.
Toms River was a haven for the Ku Klux Klan in the early to mid-twentieth century. How many African Americans are going to move to a town that organized black church burnings and had a huge hall built to serve host to KKK meetings?
Until Huryk and the town council can publicly admit why Toms River was never the place African Americans wanted to live until the later part of the twentieth century, they are just putting their heads in the sand and crying foul on a problem created by many of their own forefathers, for the ones who are long entrenched in Toms River.
If race is a problem in Toms River, which quite frankly, it’s hard to believe that many people in town actually agree with Huryk, then you must first figure out why Toms River has an 82% white population. Then, you need to figure out what you want to do going forward.
All of this is just words from a Democrat latching onto a hot-topic social issue 12 months before her re-election bid as a politician. It’s the number one play in the Democrat playbook. Now, for once, it would be nice to see Toms River’s do-nothing Democrats, Laurie Huryk and Terrance Turnbach, the wealthy lawyer come through and stand behind this radical new plan to transform Toms River and let the voters know exactly how they’re going to bring peace and harmony to a town that is so divided by race.
Because it’s not.
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