With two Holmdel Township Committee seats up for grabs on Nov. 6 and four candidates throwing their hats in the ring, Democrats and Republicans are preparing for a contest.
Township Committeeman Larry Fink, a 12-year veteran of the governing body, former mayor, and the sole Democrat on the 5-member governing body, is not seeking re-election. "I want to spend more time with my other passions: my job -- which is land preservation -- scouting, my family. I've decided its time to let other people carry the ball forward," he said Tuesday.
His three year term, and the unexpired one-year term left vacant by Republican Freeholder Serena DiMaso are now in play in a year marked by contentious debate over how to grapple with a $2 million budget gap, protest rallies over the sale of public land, and public meetings that grew so large that people stood for hours to participate.
On Monday, petitions were filed by four candidates to run for the two offices in the June primary, said Township Clerk Maureen Doloughty. Holmdel Democrats will be represented by residents Mark Levinson and Lawrence Luttrell. The Holmdel Republicans will be represented by Tom Critelli and Township Committeeman Joseph Ponisi . Ponisi joined the dais in January when DiMaso left.
Fink said Levinson and Luttrell are "both talented and capable people" and that they share his commitment to fiscal restraint and protecting the beauty of Holmdel. "We need their help at this critical time to keep municipal spending in check and to ensure that the redevelopment of the Lucent property enhances our community and does not damage the environment," Fink said.
Mark Levinson, of Willowbrook Road in Holmdel, has his own consulting company, ML Consulting. "With Mark’s experience and keen business sense he can help put Holmdel back on track making wise decisions and restoring fiscal integrity," said Holmdel Democrat Municipal Chair Tony Orsini. "He has over 20 years executive experience overseeing and maximizing business opportunities through negotiation and resource development. He has more than 25 years experience in cost analysis, project management, process identification and development specializing in start up business operations."
Levinson will run against Ponisi for the 1-year unexpired Township Committee seat vacated by DiMaso. Ponisi has worked for 25 years in municipal bonds, primarily as a financial analyst with GE Capital. He serves on the Finance Committee.
Luttrell practices law in Holmdel and lives on Briarhill Road. According to a press release, he graduated from the University of Miami in 1995 and was a member of the 1991 NCAA Division I Champion Miami Hurricanes (1991-1995). He was also a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. Luttrell graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in 1998 and interned for the Hon. John Ricciardi, Superior Court of NJ, Monmouth County. From 1999-2002 he was Assistant Municipal Prosecutor in Hoboken. He recently worked gratis for Sandy Hook activists and were successful in stopping a development planned by Sandy Hook Partners represented by Hill-Wallack law firm.
He will be running against Thomas Critelli for the 3 year committee seat being vacated by 12 year Committeeman Larry Fink, say Democrats. Critelli, who is new to township politics, is president of Danitom Development, a homebuilder and property development company.
Levinson and Luttrell both opposed the sale of Cross Farm and other land in Holmdel as a way to fix the town's large budget deficit, said Orsini. "They both understand that selling public land would not solve the underlying problem that we are spending too much given the poor economy, and that it would deprive us and future generations of the farms and forests that many people over decades worked tirelessly to preserve."
Messages seeking comment have been left for Holmdel Republican Party members, including Holmdel Republican Municipal Chair Marcy McMullen.