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Local politicians vying for anticipated vacancy of Assembly seat 


Staff Writer

Three local politicians have announced they will run for the Assembly seat in Legislative District 13 that will be vacated by state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), who will be retiring.

Formal announcements have been made by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who have said they will be campaigning for the anticipated open Assembly seat.

The first announcement came on Jan. 4 from Fair Haven Councilman Robert K. Marchese, who said he was seeking to fill the Assembly seat being vacated in the 13th Legislative District by O’Scanlon, who is seeking to fill the state Senate seat currently held by Kyrillos.

“It is time to bring some small-town, get-it-done, know-how to Trenton,” said Marchese, who has served three terms as a councilman. “As a councilman, I voted to privatize sanitation, fought budget increases and have helped Fair Haven maintain its double A+ bond rating from S&P, making it one of the top ten real estate markets in the state, according to NJ.com.”

Marchese is a graduate of Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School. He has maintained his own law practice since 1994 and has an office in Red Bank.

On Jan. 9, Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso announced she will be running for the state Assembly in the 13th District.

“The retirement of our great state Sen. Joe Kyrillos has left some big shoes to be filled, and those shoes will likely be filled by one of our current Assembly members,” DiMaso announced in a press release.

“During my tenure on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, my colleagues and I have dramatically cut spending and we’ve cut taxes. At the same time, the quality of the services and infrastructure the county government provides has improved. We have shown in Monmouth County that it is possible to have a good government which is affordable. I want to take that mindset to Trenton,” she said.

“I did not anticipate running for higher office after such a hard-fought victory at the county level,” said DiMaso. “But with New Jersey suffering from anemic economic growth and reports that for the fifth straight year, New Jersey leads the country in residents leaving the state for greener pastures, I believe the opportunity to have my voice heard in Trenton on behalf of the people of the 13th Legislative District is one I must pursue.

“I look forward to speaking with the people of the Bayshore and Two Rivers communities that make up the 13th District and sharing my plans for a better future for New Jersey,” she said.

Also campaigning for the 13th District Assembly seat is Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, who made his first announcement via a Facebook video, just hours after DiMaso’s press release. In his video, he cites his record as a 12-year Middletown Township committeeman, of which he served as mayor for six of those years.

Scharfenberger then released a formal announcement in a letter that outlined his vision.

“Every election, we are reminded that Monmouth County is the best place to live, work and raise a family. As in years past, the public agreed with us that the Republican vision for our county is taking our communities in the right direction. To help pick up where Joe leaves off, our candidate for Assembly needs to possess strong conservative convictions.

“With my strong record on the governing body and as mayor of Middletown, I am best suited to represent our party and fight to preserve our region’s quality of life as our next assemblyman. We have been able to hold the line on taxes in Middletown while increasing services and being a prominent voice in speaking out with my fellow mayors against the destructive policies in the Legislature. I have been a leader in utilizing shared service agreements and expanding business development and commercial ratables in town to simultaneously increase our tax base and lower municipal costs.

“My recent re-election with the highest vote total in Middletown history is evidence that my record will stand up to even the most formidable Democrat challenger and give the residents of the 13th District the proven leader in the Assembly,” said Scharfenberger.


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