Write-In Candidate Challenges Republican Incumbents in Tuckerton

By PAT JOHNSON | Oct 28, 2019

Tuckerton — In Tuckerton, two Republicans are being challenged by a write-in candidate for two seats on the borough council. An independent party, Tuckerton for Progress is asking residents to write in their candidate, Paula Bell, on Election Day. Council President Sam Colangelo and Councilman Mike Santo are the incumbents seeking re-election.

Last year Bell ran as an Independent with Skip Deckman and lost her bid for mayor to Republican incumbent Sue Marshall.

Paula Bell has lived in Tuckerton Beach since 2003 and bought her home in 2016. She is engaged and has two adult children from her previous marriage. She works with the Rutgers School of Social Work’s Grow NJ Kids initiative, which takes her all over the state to instruct and train teachers in that program’s curriculum and assessments. Her undergraduate degree is in political science from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has a master’s in liberal arts from Monmouth University and a degree in Learning by Design Education and Leadership from Thomas Edison State College.

She is president of the Rotary Club of Great Bay, a member of the Tuckerton Beach Association and a block captain in her community and serves on the Great Bay Regional Municipal Alliance Committee.

Bell said she is running again because she feels there have been no positive changes in Tuckerton since she ran a year ago. “We’ve had changes, but no progress: Our taxes went up and our water and sewer rates went up. Our ball field has been neglected,” she said recently at a Tuckerton Council meeting.

Bell said her feelings haven’t changed since 2018 and wanted her statement repeated: “I am running because I believe Tuckerton can be a thriving shore town where small businesses will come to plant their roots, where families vacation year after year and where active adults will look to retire.

“I believe how this can be achieved is by establishing transparency, restoring the faith in our local government and building our community.

“I believe what needs to happen is rehabilitate and revitalize our downtown, bring in more rateables to our town and ensure that our waterways are navigable.”

Council President Sam Colangelo has been on the dais for two terms and is chairman of the public works and water utility committee.

Colangelo and his wife, Judy, have been married for 47 years; they have two children, a son and daughter both living in Maryland, and three grandsons.

Colangelo graduated from West Scranton Senior High school in Pennsylvania, where he lettered in football and swimming. He earned a B.S.Ed. at Bloomsburg University with a major in biology and an ME in education at Towson University in Maryland and took additional graduate courses at Morgan University, also in Maryland. He was area manager for Field Enterprises Educational Corporation Inc., publishers of the World Book Encyclopedia, before entering the teaching profession.

He retired from the Harford County Public School system after 35 years of service, where he was science department chairman and later computer department chairman at North Harford Middle School and a computer specialist in curriculum development. He started his educational career as a teacher at North Harford High School and also taught an in-service credit course in computer science to teachers in Harford County. He was the North Harford Senior High varsity head swim coach for 25 years and also taught youth summer science courses at Harford Community College.

His wife and he bought their home in Paradise Cove in Tuckerton in 1998 and moved here permanently in 2002 upon retirement.

Colangelo is a member of Alpha Phi Omega. He belongs to the Tuckerton Red Men Pohatcong Tribe 61 (past Sachem) Great Council of New Jersey, Red Men (past Great Sachem) and is the Great Keeper of Wampum in that fraternal organization. Before his election to council, he served on the Tuckerton Waterways Commission and the land use board.

He is currently a member and vice president of the Ocean County Municipal Utilities Authority Association.

Other achievements include being a former American Red Cross instructor trainer in swim programs and an instructor at various American Red Cross division schools. In October 2017, he was inducted into the North Harford High School Athletic Hall of Fame as a swim coach.

He is a member and past treasurer of the Regular Republican Club of Tuckerton and recently took on the post of Office of Emergency Management coordinator for Tuckerton.

He outlined his achievements on council in a written statement.

“My first assignment in 2014 was to supervise the converting of the Coastal Learning Center to the New Municipal complex  – four years later the project was complete. I am particularly proud to have been part of the restructuring of the Public Works/Water Sewer Department which resulted in better service to all residents by having a Certified Public Works Manager, a Certified Recycling Coordinator, a work force having their CDL’s and additional training for water sewer employees, plus a full time certified mechanic to maintain Borough vehicles. The borough has given them the tools to do the various jobs which previously had to be outsourced to private firms or shared service agreement participants at additional costs to the Borough. Furthermore, we provided our water/sewer department with equipment to do many repairs often done by outside contractors. By making all these changes, we saved the Borough a good deal of money and increased the efficiency of the entire PW/WS operation.”

Colangelo believes he is qualified to head the Office of Emergency Management as he lived through Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“Like some others, I did not fully appreciate the dangers involved with this storm; it was just another hurricane like the ones I had experienced before. My ground elevation was high, and I could not visualize water going over the bulkhead. I felt safe; I stayed in my home through the storm. I was wrong – the water came over the bulkhead and didn’t stop and the winds were howling. Then the eye of the storm came and there was tranquility and the water started to recede.  I thought it was over ,but I was wrong again. It came back again with a fury that rattled me to the bone. It was frightening, and I remember thinking that if I got through this I would never allow myself to be this complacent about a hurricane again. I would be prepared the next time. After Sandy passed, I joined up with other neighbors, and we helped each other put things back together.”

Clangelo’s thoughts on Tuckerton’s future: “We do not have a crystal ball to look into the future, but we do have the ability to examine the past. We can play Monday morning quarterback and say this was right and this was not right, but we are not committed to make the same mistakes as those in the past if we focus on doing what is best for the borough residents. Making ‘band aid fixes’ to potentially serious down the road issues is not sound practice, nor is expecting improvements to not have a price. We will exhaust every possible grant to replace our aging infrastructure, road resurfacing, dredging conditions, water quality, sewage treatment, resident safety and equipment needs. We also need to develop a collective vision of what Tuckerton will become 10, 20 or more years in the future, and this will require looking at all options. The entire country is in a state of flux. Tuckerton must grow and with the limited developable land must increase its ratable base. I do not have all the answers, but I do have the passion and persistence to work toward meaningful goals for the good of us all. Tuckerton is a great borough with responsible leaders who look at the big picture. This challenge will not be easy but it is worthwhile, and I welcome input from residents and ask them to become part of the solution with us and keep in mind that municipal governments are bound by state/county laws that are not applicable in the private sector. We receive and allocate the movement of public funds, therefore we are held to different standards than private businesses – county, state and federal agencies have input on how we spend public money.

“Tuckerton is a borough comprised of many areas: the Avenues, the Beach, the Meadows, the Uplands, McConomy town, the Cove, Main Street, the Estates, and no one area is better or worse than another. All areas face the same issues and expect the same level of services. We must respect all and curtail the attitude that because I live in a special area, I am better than you and you don’t count because of where you live. This is wrong. I would like to work with individuals who share my vision of one borough and working to make it better for all residents not just some residents

“I was elected to represent the residents of Tuckerton. I am you. I attend meetings and voice my opinion. I ask questions and listen to residents. I explain expenditures in the public works/water sewer area and clarify my position through meaningful dialogue and then vote on issues. None of this is done in secret. Every time council engages in talking we are limited to only three of us at a time. We must meet again in public with the balance of council to have the same conversation. During the course of a week, we have several conversations – not as some describe as secret meetings. We are bound by the Open Public Meetings Act. We are doing our job of representing you. I believe in the election process and the will of the voters. I have done the best that I can for the residents of Tuckerton and worked tireless on their behalf and will continue to do that if you choose to reelect me for my third term.”

Michael Santo was appointed to council in 2015 after Mayor Buck Evans lost his bid for re-election to Councilwoman Susan Marshall. Santo then won election to the council in 2016. He is chairman of the administration and regulation committee.

Santo has been married for 48 years; he and his wife have two children and four grandchildren. His daughter lives in neighboring Little Egg Harbor.

Santo graduated from high school in 1965 and attended the Electric Computer Programming Institute. He purchased his home in Tuckerton Beach in August 1981, and when he retired in 2002, his family moved to Tuckerton permanently. His family attends St. Theresa Catholic Church, where he is a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a trustee.

Santo started his career in public service in 2003 as a member of the Pride and Celebration Committee, which organizes the parades and holiday events, and also of the Pinelands 4th of July Committee, which organizes the fireworks and events. He is still a member of those two committees.

Santo was a part of the Tuckerton Food Pantry Building Committee, a project that built the pantry with volunteer labor. He served as treasurer from the start to the finish of the pantry building built on borough land off North Green Street. He also has worked as a volunteer in the food pantry since before the new building.

Santo joined the Citizens Emergency Response Team from its inception and continues his certification as a team member.

During Superstorm Sandy, Santo helped set up the emergency shelter in Pinelands Regional Junior High School, and he, his wife and dog stayed there when they evacuated from Tuckerton Beach.

He is a Tuckerton Republican Club member and its treasurer.

Santo said his most memorable achievements while he has been on council include the ongoing replacement of roads and infrastructure, such as new water and sewer lines in Tuckerton Beach and elsewhere; the renewal of the South Green Street Park; and the renovations that turned a former school into a new borough complex and police station.

Santo sees a bright future ahead for Tuckerton as more new homes are being built since Sandy and more are being planned.

One problem that he hopes to solve with the Economic Development Committee and tax incentives already in place is to see the vacant buildings on Main Street become thriving businesses. “The (passenger) ferry (between Tuckerton and Beach Haven) might have some influence if it keeps building momentum. Another bigger boat is being planned, but as always, funding takes time,” he said.


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