The Ocean County sheriff’s race offers voters the classic choice between more of the same and a change of direction.
Michael G. Mastronardy, the Republican incumbent, served 22 years as the Toms River police chief before being elected sheriff for the first time in 2013. Mastronardy is running for reelection to a third three-year term.
Gene Davis, the Democratic challenger, is a military veteran who was previously a councilman in Linden, Union County, where he worked closely with police personnel and negotiated their union contracts.
The Ocean County Sheriff’s duties include responsibility for Ocean County Superior Court, including probation; emergency management; the 911 Center; the Ocean County police academy; the criminal scientific investigation unit; the K-9 unit; the marine unit; the county’s civilian emergency response team; and the Ocean County sheriff laboratory.
Mastronardy and Davis agree two of the biggest challenges the next sheriff will face are terrorism and drugs.
With any organization, there will always be personnel issues and budget constraints, Mastronardy said.
“That being said, our office is constantly reviewing how as an organization, working with our partners, we can address natural disasters, the drug crisis, terrorism and active-shooter situations,” Mastronardy said.
Over the next three years, Davis said he believes some of the biggest challenges will be hate crimes, terrorism and drugs.
“These problems have been growing in recent years, and without corrective action will only continue to get worse,” Davis said.
Mastronardy said he wants to continue to be involved in public safety.
Davis said he is running because he has many ideas he would like to implement that could make positive changes for Ocean County.
“Change is never easy, but with the great team I will assemble at the Sheriff’s Office, I think it is possible to bring true reform to Ocean County,” Davis said.
Besides the sheriff’s race, two Ocean County freeholder seats, which are three-year terms, will be on the ballot.
The two Republican incumbents running for reelection are John P. “Jack” Kelly and Virginia “Ginny” Haines.
The two Democratic challengers are Jean Czarkowski and David T. Wright.
One Libertarian Party candidate, Daniel Valentine, is running.