TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ellen Dela Cruz was planning on retiring from her job as a registered nurse in Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, but that was before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Dela Cruz thought she would retire this past March, but realized her job was now more important than ever. Now, she’s running against long time Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari, and has an uphill battle to face this November, a challenge that could be even harder than beating COVID-19. Della Cruz is trying to defeat a well-entrenched Republican in the state of New Jersey’s most Republican leaning county. In 2017, she received 58,000 votes compared to Vicari’s nearly 85,000 and it wasn’t a Presidential election year. It also wasn’t a mail-in ballot year, which can favor Democrats statewide.
Dela Cruz has lived in Lacey Township since 1980 where she and her husband Ceasar, used to run a 7-11 franchise. Caesar passed away in 2019.
“I planned to retire in March of this year but with the pandemic raging on, I could not find it in my heart to leave at that time. I have to be true to my calling. I wanted to wait until it’s over or at least lets up,” Dela Cruz said. “The number of Covid19 cases are now well under control in New York .” It’s quite an honor and at the same time, very humbling to be called a HEALTHCARE HERO. As a Registered Nurse I dedicate my life to caring for others. In these troubled times, it is more important than ever that we have leaders who are knowledgeable, compassionate, committed, and can guide us to control the spread of the pandemic and the overdose and substance use epidemic.”
Dela Cruz also has business experience.
“As a former small business owner, I owned a very successful 7-Eleven store in Lacey Township for 15 years,” she said. “At my beautiful and friendly store, I worked hard to provide my customers with quality goods and services at a competitive price, which made them love to come back again and again. I provided my happy and welcoming employees with honest work at fair wages, and I generously contributed to the community.”
She hopes to defeat Vicari, who has been in office for 39 years. She thinks the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders should have term limits. It’s currently a position to be held until a persons’ death, or until they are given a better, higher-paying job by the political machine that powers Ocean County politics. She knows a lot about local government as she spent three terms herself on the Lacey Township Municipal Committee.