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Belmar Still Playground Of The Powerful

You may recall this story from last year’s election. You should probably have another look at it.

Well I haven’t talked about it but I’ve been waiting patiently for NJ ELEC to publish the 4th quarter report for Joe Waks’ Progressive Values Committee and have been checking the website every day for the past two weeks.

The report was filed last Thursday, 15 days past the deadline, and went up on the site Friday.

So Waks took in $40,600 in the quarter, $40,500 of which came from the Fairview Insurance Agency in Verona.

A little over $11,000 of it was spent influencing the Council election in our little town.

You may be unsurprised to learn that Fairview Insurance is owned by a major north Jersey Democratic party benefactor and power player.  He’s Essex County Democrat “Hall of Famer” John F. X. Graham.  A quick Google search turned up a few news stories about him and his son Ryan, who also works at the agency.

I think the agency must be very profitable.  A search through ELEC revealed to me that collectively, Graham, his wife, their three children and the agency have contributed well over $800,000 to political campaigns over the years, even to our friend Marty Small down there in AC.  And of course……

Anyway, at least that little mystery from last fall has been solved for those of you who were wondering.

Enjoy the game tonight.


  1. Aileen wrote:

    Thanks for the great reporting Dave. This is exactly why we need to lose the political parties in our little town and move to a non-partisan government.

    Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  2. Katrina wrote:

    It’s all rather depressing isn’t it?
    Aileen, in all sincerity, what would the change in government do to stop this kind of corruption? Wouldn’t it just be a horse of a different color? Can you explain please.

    Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  3. admin wrote:

    BTW, he contributed to a few Republicans too.

    Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Claude Rains wrote:

    “I am shocked – shocked!

    Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Noreen Dean wrote:

    Vomitus, plain and simple.

    Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  6. eugene creamer wrote:

    We can only speculate about Belmar switching to the Central Jersey Joint Insurance Fund a few years ago…

    btw- the expensive glossy mailings didn’t help those candidates

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  7. Aileen wrote:

    Katrina – while PAC money from Newark or Verona or Jersey City – places that know and care nothing about Belmar – can still influence our elections in a non partisan government, it would be harder to connect with those influencers without the party machine. The Belmar political groups are connected to the Monmouth County political groups who are connected to state groups. And the developers, lawyers, insurance brokers, corporations, consultants and any big donor can more easily connect with those groups than they can with an individual. Citizens United calls corporations individuals so that candidates can use unlimited funds to sway voters. Our local Democrats who are ok with the PAC money behind the mailer about Russo and McBride might as well say they’re for Citizens United as far as I’m concerned.

    The smaller we are, the less we are on the bigger political radar, the more likely we’ll get good candidates. There are people who have minds of their own, who simply can’t run without drinking the party committee kool-aid. As for us voters, we’ll be able to see them as they are, not as the glossy mailer depicts them. I’m for globalization all the way down to shared serviced between little towns, but when it comes to elections I think it’s time Belmar gets smaller, simpler and more clear. This does not have to hurt anyone currently sitting on the dais. I respect them and hope they all run again.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  8. Aileen wrote:

    Oh and Eugene – you’re right that the glossy mailings didn’t help them – but I don’t think anything could have. Get a Matt in front of those glossy mailings and they simply pay for a new council person and future mayor.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Non Partisan...not!! wrote:

    Tinton Falls has “non-partisan” elections. The 3 candidates that won in November were hand picked by Vin Gopal. No such thing as non-partisan elections.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  10. Katrina wrote:

    Thanks for your opinion Aileen. And although I understand what your saying I believe it’s a little naive to think power brokers would not be involved with a candidate just because they are not party affiliated. In fact in some ways I wonder if it couldn’t be worse. But really my main concern is about losing the ability of residents to petition under the Faulkner Act. Perhaps if Ken Pringle reads this he can comment on that. It’s been a while but that is sticking in my mind as a negative of non-partisan forms of municipal governments.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  11. Aileen wrote:

    Usually the candidate (or his party affiliates) searches for the power brokers, not the other way around. Once the candidate wins the election it may become the other way around, but we always have to deal with that anyway. Better to have someone disconnected to power brokers in the first place. Not sure about being able to petition.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  12. Aileen wrote:

    Tinton Falls has a strong mayor form of government under the Faulkner Act with ability to petition. So could we.
    If we make the change maybe we could also prohibit PAC money in our elections….why not? It’s worth trying. Again, the current Mayor and Council can run again just like they did when they had an R or D next to their name. If people need to see a letter next to a candidate’s name in order to vote I recommend they just stay home and watch TV;)

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  13. Mark L wrote:

    To change to non partisan elections, the town charter only has to be amended. There is no need to change the entire forms of government. Belmar can still remain a small municipality form of government under the Optional Municipal Charter Law (Faulkner Act)
    The power of initiative and referendum would remain.

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    A switch to non partisan elections is sorely needed in Belmar. I completely agree with Mark L and Aileen. We all know there are ‘political machines’ in our little town in which to even get on the ballot, would-be candidates need to swear fealty to the power brokers in the shadows. It sounds crazy but it is happening.

    There are too many good people unwilling to run because of the entrenched power bases.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  15. eugene creamer wrote:

    the minority always wants to change the form of government … until they become the majority

    Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  16. Ken Pringle wrote:

    @ 10 Katrina – Belmar can switch to a non-partisan form without losing our rights to initiative and referendum. I personally favor non-partisan elections, particularly in the current divisive political climate. To run now in Belmar, a candidate must either be selected by the Local Party Committee to run and be given the party line at the primary, or must run off the line and defeat the party’s hand-picked candidate. That can be very difficult, especially for a newcomer. Also, partisan elections make it impossible for people of different parties (or those who don’t belong to any party) to run together. I read recently that Vin Gopal is introducing legislation to make it easier for citizens to petition to switch from partisan to non-partisan elections. I will let you know when that is introduced.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  17. Katrina wrote:

    Thanks Ken. I appreciate your answering. one question always leads to another in my head, so; I’m wondering if multiple candidates could potentially add more chaos or fracturing of a community. Also as to my and Aileen’s origanal conversation, how or why in and of itself would changing prevent dark money from entering into our campaign and election process?
    I guess that’s more than one question lol.
    I ask because if memory serves me right one of the reasons you changed to the form we have now was because of the fracturing within different areas of town.

    Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

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