JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin is up for re-election in Ocean County in just 10 days, but he also serves as the chief legal counsel for Jackson Township. Now, he’s being accused by residents of turning a blind eye to largescale residential prayer homes in Jackson Township, a topic he has vehemently in defense of in recent months.
McGuckin, who also serves as chief legal counsel for Toms River and one of the chief architects of that town’s abolition of ten-acre zoning requirements for houses of worship has a lot of conflicts of interest. Besides serving as Jackson and Toms River’s chief legal counsel, he and his firm hold as many as 30 public legal appointments which include serving as the chief legal counsel for the Lakewood planning board.
McGuckin’s law firm receives over $4,000,000 annually with large sums of public contracts in Lakewood, Toms River and at the county level. His firm was hired by Mayor Michael Reina in 2020 after Reina promised Ocean County GOP Chairman that his people would get a ‘bigger piece of the pie’ moving forward. To hire McGuckin, Reina fired long term township lawyer Jean Cipriani. Reina in 2019 told Holman that to squash ‘political beefs’, he would start sharing the public taxpayer pie in Ocean County with forces aligned with Holman after Reina’s split with former GOP Chairman George Gilmore.
This week, McGuckin shut down residents who asked the township to issue violations at homes in town they felt were in violation of township code by hosting large prayer groups in homes they claim have no primary resident. Elenor Hannum, at last week’s public meeting asked McGuckin for a status report on several homes. Reina sat in the chair adjacent to McGuckin in silence as the his town attorney denied that there are any illegal houses of worship operating in residential neighborhoods in Jackson.
Hannum was seeking the township’s update on several homes she reported, feeling they were in violation of the township code. McGuckin interrupted her and shut down her line of questioning, declaring no homes are in violation in Jackson Township.
“None of our ordinances are in violation,” McGuckin snapped at Hannum. “They [code enforcement] did an investigation, people are allowed to live in a house and there was no violation.”
Hannum said McGuckin’s interpretation was not accurate, “I find it very unsettling…and nobody has answers.”
“I’m going to stop you from speaking, because you know, you did get answers…you don’t like the answers,” McGuckin snapped back at the concerned resident. “I just gave you an answer…I gave you the answer…because you think it’s a violation does not make it a violation.”
McGuckin is now under fire for playing politics with a voting bloc he desperately needs to win in his re-election for Ocean County’s 10th legislative district which covers Manchester, Toms River and Brick Townships.