TOMS RIVER — Ocean County Republicans nominated Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra as a candidate for New Jersey State Assembly in the 10th Legislative District at their convention meeting on Wednesday night.
Mr. Kanitra joins two incumbents, Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin and state Sen. Jim Holzapfel, on the 10th District’s GOP ticket for November.
As a candidate, the Point Beach mayor replaces Assemblyman John Catalano, who confirmed Thursday that he plans instead to run for mayor in Brick Township, where Democrat Lisa Crate has been appointed to replace John Ducey as mayor, following Mr. Ducey’s appointment to a state Superior Court judgeship.
A special mayoral election in November will determine who finishes out the remainder of Mr. Ducey’s term.
The 10th Legislative District includes Point Pleasant Beach, Brick Township, Lavallette and Mantoloking, as well as Island Heights, Lakehurst, Manchester, Seaside Heights and Toms River.
Mr. McGuckin and Mr. Kanitra received 63 and 50 votes respectively at the GOP convention, besting former Brick councilwoman Ruthanne Scaturro, who had 35, and Toms River school board member Ashly Lamb, who had 25.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Mayor Kanitra. “The County Convention is made up of my peers. It is a relatively small group of mayors of the towns in the 10th District, municipal chairs, council presenter, etc., and they are the ones who are most intimately involved and aware of the job you are doing. To get their support is a big deal.”
In a post on his Facebook page, Mr. Kanitra described his post as Point Pleasant Beach mayor as “a dream job,” marred only by what he called “the horrendous policies coming out of Trenton that have continually harmed our Shore communities,” adding, “I feel compelled to do my part to try and stop all of it.”
Predicting a victorious result for his assembly campaign, Mr. Kanitra suggested that “one of my incredible council members” would likely succeed him as mayor in Point Beach.
“Receiving this huge honor last night means that a new chapter is opening. And the best part about that new chapter is that I will be able to help PPB in ways that I can’t right now … that means when my current term as mayor ends this year I will, hopefully, be transitioning to the assembly and being able to work in that capacity.”
In the meantime, he said, his borough administration will have “10 more months to finish up the initiatives we started together to revitalize this great community.”
In an interview with The Ocean Star, Mayor Kanitra also assured residents that he would continue to live in the area and be a large part of the community and the local Republican Club, while helping the new incoming mayor as much as he can.
“I strongly believe that the next mayor should come from our existing council members,” said Mayor Kanitra, “all of whom have shown the work ethic and commitment that is necessary…the most important part is that we ensure it is a fair and open and transparent process.”
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