GOP mayoral contest stirs up interest

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid faces a challenge to his bid for a second term from another Republican, Councilman Paul Kanitra.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Members of the Point Pleasant Beach Republican Club gathered at a jam-packed Woman’s Club earlier this week for the final meeting before members vote on who to support as the GOP candidate for the mayoral election this November.

Just a month ago it appeared that sitting Mayor Stephen Reid would be the clear and uncontested choice for the party to support for re-election.
Within that month, the mayor announced he would run for an open State Assembly seat, lost his bid for the seat, and has been challenged for the mayoral seat by first-term Republican Councilman Paul Kanitra in what began as a war of words over leadership last week.

Since then, the rhetoric appears to have calmed, as evidenced at Monday night’s meeting.

Point Beach Republicans packed the room Feb. 25 and lined up outside the clubhouse door on St. Louis Avenue to pay their annual dues and many stuck around to see what would happen following the brief but bitter dispute that went public between the mayor and Mr. Kanitra.

The clash became public after Mayor Reid announced his intention to run for the State Assembly and Councilman Kanitra declared he would be running for the mayoral office. Mayor Reid sent several critical text messages to Mr. Kanitra, which he later acknowledged was a mistake and apologized.