Candidates vying for Berkeley council seats
Editor’s Note: Many applicants did NOT submit a photo to Jersey Shore Online for this story.
BERKELEY – Eight candidates are running for four- or four-year terms on city council in November.
The town is divided into four districts. Each neighborhood has a council member who represents them. Each candidate was emailed a list of questions about their history and strengths.
In Ward 1, Republican Councilor James Byrnes is challenged by Democrat Alexis Loftus.
In Ward 2, Republican Councilor Angelo Guadagno is challenged by Democrat Patrick O’Keefe.
In Ward 3, Republican Councilor Michael Signorile is challenged by Democrat Andrew Prudente.
In Ward 4, Republican Councilor Sophia Gingrich is challenged by Democrat Thomas White, Jr.
Byrnes is a longtime Bayville resident whose children and grandchildren are graduates of Central Regional. A nurse in Vietnam with the 82sd In flight, he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
He is now retired. When he was Director of Facilities for the Freehold Regional High School District, he was responsible for the maintenance and grounds of the six high schools and the district administration building.
He has been a member of the board for nine years, four of which as chairman. He spent six years with the Berkeley Board of Education and was also a member of the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.
He is a member of VFW Post 9503, Knights of Columbus St. Barnabas 8603, Trustee of the Berkeley Republican Club, former member of the Berkeley Township Taxpayers Coalition, and former volunteer with Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity.
The most important things in the city are to keep taxes stable and bring smart economic growth where rates should be, while keeping the open space for development, he said.
âWe worked with landowners along the Highway 9 corridor to attract new business. Although the pandemic has caused businesses to close, we have opened new businesses and will continue to work with owners, âhe said.
Byrnes continues to fight for a fair school funding formula. State aid should be distributed according to enrollment, and each district should receive the same amount of aid per child, he said.
âAs city councilor for Ward 1, which is mainly the maritime area, we have made significant improvements by cleaning up our neighborhoods and improving the infrastructure damaged by Sandy. We still have work to do and we are determined to finish the job, âhe said.
Loftus has not submitted any statements at press time.
Guadagno is a teacher in the Berkeley Township School District. He has been a municipal councilor for Ward 2 for eight years.
âI am currently a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Italian American Club and the BTES PTA. I was very active in our youth sports programs when my kids were younger, âhe said. “I was a volunteer coach for Little League, women’s softball and Berkeley basketball.”
âOne of the biggest problems our city faces is attracting businesses to Berkeley. The mayor, city council and the Township of Berkeley Economic Development Commission are actively working together to increase our commercial rate base along the Highway 9 corridor. We have made great strides forward in recent years, but we still have work to do, âhe said.
âOur strong and resilient community continues to rebuild after Sandy. We have very few homes in our township that need renovating since Sandy. Despite Sandy’s initial notable loss, we continue to keep our taxes stable, âhe said. âDue to the hard work of our mayor and city council, the Township of Berkeley has the 2nd lowest average property tax in Ocean County according to the local government division of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. In fact, the average property tax bill in the Township of Berkeley is less than half the amount of the state average.
âOne of the things I’m also proud of is our commitment to improving our infrastructure. We have paved many roads, improved drainage and improved municipal parks, âhe said.
O’Keefe is a life resident of Bayville, “with my 4th child on the way.” Two are old enough to be in the primary school system, the third is still too young for our preschool program.
âI own a small turnkey cardiac imaging solutions business serving cardiologists in Ocean County,â he said. He was an assistant coach for his sons’ tee ball team.
“I think our main problems in town are one-party representation, vacant commercial properties on Highway 9, unanimous agreement in all decisions, for example increasing non-voting contracts from $ 17,000 to $ 40,000, salary increases, âhe said.
Signoril has been an active member of Holiday City South for eight years. Since 2020, he has served on the board and is president of the Senior Coalition of Berkeley Township.
âI believe it is important to ensure that the people in our communities receive the best representation with open lines of communication with those who represent them. My hope is to continue to represent the people of Holiday City South, the Berkeley Township and Ward 3 Seniors Coalition, and the best interests of the Township of Berkeley, âhe said. âI believe the best way to achieve this is with the Amato team and the programs that have provided us with a commune with an excellent tax base, exceptional services, excellent bond ratings and a team that continues to aim for the excellence in government. â
Signorile is retired, but has had several careers including that of a police officer at Ramsey, a banker and a corporate security officer. Its professional associations include the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), the New Jersey Security Association, and the PBAs. He is also an Honorary Life Member of the 3rd Degree of the Knights of Columbus and is involved in the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Blue Knights, Chapter XI.
Prudent is a retired engineer. He expects to use this experience to plan projects on time and under budget. He volunteered for the American Red Cross and the Loyal Order of Elks.
âThe development of vacant and abandoned land must be addressed without creating more traffic congestion on Rt. 9. The way to avoid this congestion is to no longer make jughandle turns. Instead, use the roundabout to keep traffic going. Jughandles require you to wait three traffic lights before you can continue. This is not a good way. The roundabout requires less maintenance and does not need a traffic cop when the lights go out, âhe said.
âWe need to form a committee to look at ways to control deer herds that are not cruel to animals. We currently allow hunting with bows and arrows, which is cruel because the animal is injured and runs until it dies, âhe said.
None of the candidates provided information before the deadline.