Responding to revelations that he or his followers were called “anarchists” in a memo written by a high-ranking Toms River Republican club official, Justin Lamb, who is running to replace incumbent Maria Maruca on November’s ballot to represent Ward 1, said Tuesday that his motives in opposing a $14 million firehouse construction referendum were pure.
“They’re calling my volunteers anarchists,” said Lamb, who publicly posted on social media that he was making calls against the referendum, which ultimately failed. “I don’t know what’s going on with this club, but the reason I’m running is because someone eventually has to stand up and say enough is enough.”
Lamb was responding to an article posted by the Ocean County Politics blog, in which Republican Club President Robert DiBiase was quoted as saying in an e-mail to club members: “We will continue to expose them as the anarchists they are!”
DiBiase, the article stated, was forwarding a memo written by school board member Christopher Raimann who accused Lamb of spreading misinformation about the firehouse project, which would have combined Toms River Fire companies 1 and 2 into a single, three-story firehouse.
The $14 million plan was swiftly defeated, 535-306, on Saturday.
“The two informational meetings they had were at difficult times for people, and then you had the election on Mother’s Day weekend for a seven hour window,” said Lamb, who accused township officials of failing to provide enough information about the plan, which sources say could have made room for the township to hire paid firefighters who would be stationed on the building’s third floor.
Lamb’s candidacy came under fire last week, when the Republican club released information showing that Lamb’s previous voting record showed him voting in Island Heights and Lavallette, but not Toms River.
Lamb told Shorebeat Tuesday that he grew up in Lavallette, owns a property in Island Heights, but for the past year has been living at Buermann Avenue and is eligible to run for office. A check of tax records showed Lamb does, indeed, own the Toms River property.
Lamb, who is courting votes on both sides of Barnegat Bay – Ward 1 includes the entirety of the township’s barrier island as well as several mainland bayfront neighborhoods – said he wants to cut administrative costs at town hall and be a watchdog for residents.
“A serious, surgical look needs to be done on the budget,” said Lamb, a Lavallette police officer. “I’m a Republican, a conservative, and that’s my stance.”
His opponent, Maruca, said the council this year reduced a potential tax increase to a minimal $22 tax increase, even with the loss of Superstorm Sandy aid and a badly-damaged tax base still hurting from the storm.
“I’ve proven myself as a resident of Ward 1 on both sides of the bay,” said Maruca. “I’ve been through a lot together with the residents of Ward 1. We’re committed to see that everybody gets back in their home. I think I’ve worked hard for the residents of Ward 1, and they seem pleased.”
Lamb is hoping to pull off a repeat of his father’s maverick Republican victory in Lavallette. In 2004, his father, Robert Lamb, ran for council along with now-mayor Walter LaCicero against the wishes of the Republican organization. Both won. Lamb remains on council in Lavallette.