STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — It’s been about 30 years since the township held partisan elections and next month a large number of candidates will face off, but most of them are running as independents. 

Two years ago, the public voted to changed the election process to partisan and move the election from May to November.

Six Township Council seats and the mayor’s post are up for election.

Six independent candidates and six Republican candidates are vying for the council seats.

Meanwhile, 24-year incumbent Republican Mayor John Spodofora is challenged by two independent candidates. Spodofora has served on the council since 1988, but earlier this year it was unclear whether he was going to run following an attack by former township Republican Club President Martha Kremer on his Vietnam war record. But in March, the club endorsed the 66-year-old Spodofora as the mayoral candidate.

The seven Republicans running in the township, including Spodofora, are split into two slates — Moving Stafford Ahead and another slate that is unnamed but made up of incumbent Councilman Henry Mancini, Paul Krier and Lori Wyrsch.

Seven independent candidates, including Paul Marchal, who is running for mayor, are part of the We Are Stafford ticket. Marchal, a six-year resident of the Beach Haven West section of the township, owns Edible Arrangements in the township and sits on the township Zoning and Planning boards.

The second independent candidate running for mayor is Thomas Litwin, running alone on the ticket “Litwin Rocks Manahawkin.” Litwin was arrested in August by township police after undercover narcotics allegedly made purchases at his Beach Haven West home. Litwin, 43, was charged with distribution of marijuana to an undercover police officer, possession of marijuana over 50 grams, possession of synthetic cannabinoids and possession of CDS paraphernalia.

There are no Democrats running.

See candidates list below

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Stafford Township mayor and council candidates


Moving Stafford Ahead slate

John Spodofora, mayoral candidate

Mayor since April 2011, Township Councilman 1988-2011

Stafford resident since 1957.

Married to Helen, father of two children, three grandchildren, all Stafford Township residents

Chairman of the Stafford Township Environmental Commission 1986-2011

Active duty U.S. Navy 1966-1973, honorable discharge.

Retired 2012 site manager of cost analysis & estimating division, U.S. Naval Engineering Center Lakehurst

2008 Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal

Spodofora says he is running on his record of what he has done for the township in the last 24 years and not making promises about what he’s going to do.

Stephen Fessler

Councilman since 2009, current council president

Stafford Township resident since 1979

Married to SallyAnn, a registered nurse at Southern Ocean Medical Center. Father of three, seven grand-children

Building-supplies salesman

Serves on the township Planning Board

Running for office to continue to expand shared services, expand the township’s community outreach program, continue to reduce the size of government and improve the quality of life for residents.

Robert Kusznikow

Councilman since 2009

Stafford Township resident since 1977

Married to Susan, father of three children, four grandchildren

Served in the U.S. Marine Corps 1966-1971, with Vietnam service

Currently a business owner of Dollar Discount Stores, Casino and Fishing Charters, Auto Repair Weld Shop and Retro Fitness in Stafford Township

Running for office to continue providing cost savings to taxpayers through serving on the board of shared services, where he says he worked to develop shared services agreements with surrounding municipalities.

Sharon McKenna

Stafford Township resident since 1998

Married to Michael, mother of three sons

Works as the education and special events coordinator for Viking Village in Barnegat Light, educating the public on responsible fishing methods by commercial fishermen. She also works to assist creating legislation to govern the nation’s fisheries.

Tuckerton Seaport Board of Trustees since 2007

Member of the Stafford Township Planning Board 2002-2011

Bachelor of arts, Stockton College, Villanova master’s certificate in advance project management

McKenna said she has served the town in many capacities since the moment she moved here 14 years ago. She said she is running for council because she wants her children to be able to afford to live in the township and be able to raise their family here.

Additional Republican candidates

Henry J. Mancini

Incumbent councilman since May 2011

12-year resident of the Cedar Run section of Stafford Township

Married to Mari, father of three children

Owner, Henry J. Mancini & Associates Inc., a real estate valuation and consulting firm in the Mayetta section of Stafford Township

Commissioner of the Ocean County Library System since 2007, and currently serving as the board chairman for the third consecutive year.

Board member of the Ocean County Health Department since 2010

Mancini said he is looking to bring open and accessible government to the residents in Stafford Township and is also looking to give back to the community and provide fiscal responsibility.

Paul Krier

15-year resident of Stafford Township

Married to Kate, father of two daughters

Serves on the Stafford Township Environmental Commission

Supervisor of facilities maintenance and technical assistance, New Jersey Water Supply Authority, Manasquan Water Supply System

Krier said he is running because he feels there has been too much drama in the local government. Krier also said he is looking to work on fiscal responsibility in the township and maintain the reasons why he moved here, such as low taxes and good, local recreation programs.

Lori Wyrsch

20-year Stafford Township resident

Married to Jeff, stay-at-home mother of four boys

Graduated from Southern Regional High School, Monmouth University

Former Stafford Township School District’s public relations/community liaison officer, 1999-2003

Served on the Stafford Township Board of Education 2008-11

Wyrsch said she decided to run for council after serving on the township Board of Education for three years. She wanted to step up to help the township more and give back to the community that has given so much to her and her family.


We Are Stafford slate

Paul Marchal, mayoral candidate

Resident for six years of the Beach Haven West section of the township

Married to Stephanie, father of two children

Owner of Edible Arrangements in Stafford Township

Member of Stafford Township Planning and Zoning boards

Worked as an accounts receivables manager and operations manager for Sharp Electronics, Liz Claiborne, Halston Borghese, Calvin Klein and Jordache.

Marchal says he is very confident he can make some very positive changes in the township by calling on his leadership experience and financial corporate background.

Joanne Sitek

Incumbent councilwoman since 2009

15-year resident of the Beach Haven West section of the township

Bachelor’s degree in education, master’s degree in behavior services/study

Retired teacher and counselor of 38 years

On the We Are Stafford campaign website, Sitek says she believes that Stafford Township needs a mayor and council that works for the citizens and their concerns.

David J. Taylor

Stafford Township resident for more than 20 years

Married to Lynn, father of two children

Graduate of Southern Regional High School

President of TaylorMade Cabinets in Stafford Township

President of the Bay Avenue Business Association and is a member of the township Zoning Board

Taylor says on the campaign website that his “approach is one of good common sense, good business sense and anyone who knows Dave will tell you, if you don't want an honest answer, don't ask him.”

Esther M. Libenschek

Township resident for eight years

Married to Eric and mother of one daughter

Sales and service specialist for Bank of America in Stafford Township; owns and operates Allstar Building Systems and American Office Cleaning with husband, Eric

CCD teacher at St Mary's, Stafford Township, for five years and adoration adorer at St Mary's, Barnegat Township for four years

On the campaign website, Libenschek said she decided to run for office with a team that has a platform of fiscal responsibility after working in a bank and seeing the tough financial decisions senior citizens must make.

Ben H. Pieper

Stafford Township resident since 1994

Worked as a carpenter in Ocean County for 33 years; for the last 16 years worked as a carpenter at Great Adventure Six Flags Amusement Park

Pieper says on his campaign website that his “only concern is ensuring Stafford residents are fairly represented. He believes the people of Stafford should be the sole decision makers of their own town and its future, no one else.”

Christopher J. McManus

Township resident since 2001

2010 Southern Regional High School graduate

A business student in the Stockton College Honors Program; 2012 graduate of Ocean County College

McManus said he is running for office to work to bring more activities and options for younger residents in the community.

Brian White

Township resident since 2002

Married to Renee, father of four children

Received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton and law degree from Widener University School of Law

Sole practitioner at the law offices of Brian Corley White in Toms River and active member of the Ocean County Bar Association

On the campaign website, White says that as a small-business owner, he is interested in helping grow the local business economy in Stafford Township.

Litwin Rocks Manahawkin slate

Thomas J. Litwin, mayoral candidate

Litwin has no website and could not be reached for comment.