By Jennifer Ortiz
HOWELL —The sitting mayor and a sitting councilman will not seek re-election in Howell this year.
Republican Mayor Bill Gotto and Republican Councilman Edward Guz did not file nominating petitions by the April 4 deadline and both men will conclude their service to the community on Dec. 31.
The race for the four-year mayor’s term could be a three-way affair. Democrat John McCabe and Republican Daniel J. Cardellichio filed nominating petitions to run for mayor.
A third resident, Patience Nolan, has said she may run for mayor as an independent candidate. Individuals who run as independent candidates have until June 7 to file a nominating petition.
Under Howell’s form of government the mayor is directly elected by voters, but serves as a member of the Township Council.
Democrat Joseph Montella and Republican Evelyn M. O’Donnell filed nominating petitions to seek the one available four-year council term.
McCabe was unsuccessful in his bid for a council seat in 2014.
Cardellichio and O’Donnell are appointed members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
McCabe, Montella, Cardellichio and O’Donnell could not immediately be reached for comment.
Nolan, who has lived in Howell for 13 years and is a substitute teacher in the community, said she wants to be an ear and a voice for the community and represent residents on the issues of importance to the municipality.
In deciding not to run for re-election, Guz, who served one term on the governing body, said, “First, I retired from my prior job as a corrections manager at a state prison. I worked with the state for more than 36 years and after that I started volunteering for the township … that was about 10 years ago, and then the state rehired me to conduct disciplinary hearings for various agencies.
“Being a council member is almost a full-time job in itself. I think it’s time to slow down, it’s bittersweet. After being in public service for 46 years, it’s time to seek a new path in my life. It’s been a long career and we have achieved a lot. It’s a good time to move on and give someone else a shot,” he said.
Prior to joining the council, Guz served on Howell’s zoning board and finance committee, among other public service endeavors.
Gotto said he made his decision not to seek re-election a while ago.
“I never considered myself a long-term politician. I am not interested in seeking higher office,” he said. “I always ask myself, it’s not so much why do I not seek re-election, it’s really why do I? And it’s pretty simple for me. If I have accomplished all my goals and I am not there to make it a career, then really what is the reason to stay?
“Each year we have been accomplishing our goals. We’ve paid loans, we’ve lowered taxes, we paid down debt, obviously, the (purchase of the) town hall building, all these major accomplishments that we have done over my four years as mayor and my seven years as a council member.
“I think we have done a lot of really good things and I feel very satisfied that I have done a lot for the residents of Howell,” Gotto said. “The town is thriving right now and I think that based on my own personal desires and some other things I want to do with my life, this is the right time.”