Former Stafford Township Mayor John McMenamin, who was removed from that office in April 2011, will now seek the office of Ocean County Sheriff, according to independent candidate filings on the Ocean County Clerk’s website.
Tuesday was the deadline for independent candidates to file to run for offices in the 2012 general election. McMenamin was a registered Democrat when he was elected to the mayor’s seat in the township.
McMenamin was removed by the council from the position of mayor in the Ocean County municipality in April 2011. Council questioned his residency after McMenamin purchased a home in Surf City on Long Beach Island. He was steadfast in saying he lived in Stafford Township, where he was elected in 2009.
A former Stafford Township police lieutenant and 21-year veteran, McMenamin retired from the force in October 2006, 15 months after he was injured in an ATV accident while on duty. He collects an annual disability pension of $86,247.
McMenamin will now face in November’s general election Republican incumbent Ocean County Sheriff William L. Polhemus and Democratic challenger George “Bob” Armstrong.
Polhemus, 83, has served as the Ocean County sheriff since 1985. He is the former chief of the Seaside Heights Police Department, where he served on the force for 35 years.
“It was my objective to run and serve for 30 years,” Polhemus said Wednesday.
This would not be the first time McMenamin challenged a longtime incumbent.
In 2009, in his bid for Stafford Township mayor, he faced former Mayor Carl Block, who held the seat for more than 25 years. McMenamin and his ticket, “Stafford First,” unseated Block and his running mates, except for 25-year Councilman John Spodofora.
Spodofora assumed the mayor’s seat following McMenamin’s removal.
McMenamin listed his address as 411 N. Third St. in Surf City on his filing for the independent candidacy for Ocean County sheriff Tuesday.
This is the same address he said was not his principle address in 2011, when the council questioned his residency. To hold the office of mayor, McMenamin was required by law to be a resident of Stafford Township.
Citing mortgage and deed documents, the council determined that there was sufficient evidence that McMenamin’s residence was in Surf City and not the township.
McMenamin purchased the Surf City home in February 2011 for $757,500 after selling his Stafford Township home at Mimi Place.
To be eligible to run for Ocean County sheriff, McMenamin must be a resident of any municipality in the county.
In addition to questioning his residency, in 2011, Spodofora also questioned McMenamin’s disability retirement status.
In October 2011, Spodofora called on the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and state Division of Pensions and Benefits to investigate what he called a fraudulent pension collected by McMenamin.
Spodofora alleged that McMenamin downplayed his injuries at times following a lawsuit he filed in 2007, claiming he was passed over for consideration to become the chief of police because he was a whistle-blower about police corruption.
Spodofora said that with the announcement of McMenamin seeking the office of sheriff, concerns of double-dipping are raised.
“I think it would be very disingenuous for a police officer out on full disability to take another job in law enforcement that has another salary and pension associated with it. That’s exactly why the state pension system is in the situation it’s in. It’s not illegal, but it’s unethical,” Spodofora said.
Armstrong said he campaigned for McMenamin in 2009 when he ran for Stafford Township mayor as a Democrat.
Armstrong, of Toms River is a former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Treasury Department, detective with the state Division of Criminal Justice and deputy director of Homeland Security with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It was my first time in politics and they were trying to get John elected, so I helped out. I was disappointed when all the stuff hit the fan when he was the mayor and his residence was in question,” Armstrong said.
“I don’t think John’s qualifications in any way compare to mine. He was a cop only here in Stafford Township. I conducted investigations all over the world and the United States,” Armstrong said.
McMenamin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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