Connect with us


Rodrick-Backed Candidate Cruises to Victory in Toms River GOP Council Primary

William Byrne (Campaign Photo)

William Byrne (Campaign Photo)

As the bitter feud between dueling factions of the Republican party in Toms River continues to escalate, Mayor Dan Rodrick scored an overwhelming victory Tuesday night, with the candidate aligned with his township council coalition roundly defeating a former council member who stood up a challenge.

The warring parties were represented by William Byrne, 82, backed by Rodrick, and former councilman and retired township police sergeant Kevin Geoghegan, 58, backed by Republicans for Toms River, a rival GOP organization. Byrne will go on to carry the Republican banner in November’s general election, seeking to fill the open seat representing Ward 2, which includes Silverton, Green Island and Holiday City at Silverton, where Byrne has served in community governance.

Ultimately, Byrne’s resounding victory – 1,409 votes (60.27 percent) to Geoghegan’s 923 votes (39.48 percent) – is as much as victory for Rodrick as the candidate himself. After Rodrick favored two controversial policy decisions – one to decline to replace two retiring police captains in favor of hiring eight EMTs, and the other to turn over operations of the municipal animal shelter to the county – the primary vote was seen as the first test of public support for the township’s new mayor.

Get Daily Toms River News Updates
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

With ordinances backing the two policies having been successfully recalled, and council meetings which have turned into shouting matches since January, Geoghegan ran on a platform of restoring more traditional governance to town hall, as well as his record of public service as a police officer and president of the Silverton First Aid Squad. Opponents of Byrne portrayed him as a Democrat in disguise who only decided to run for office as a Republican due to support from the mayor. Byrne changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in March.

Voters, in the end, chose to expand Rodrick’s supportive council majority notwithstanding the simmering controversies and a strong campaign waged by Geoghegan to gain back a seat on the council. Byrne will now appear on the November ballot.

“His win is a win for our entire town,” Rodrick told Shorebeat after the unofficial results from the Ocean County Clerk’s office were released. “For the third election in a row, the people of Toms River have rejected the corrupt, pro-development, big government policies of the prior administration and they did so despite an onslaught of slanted, negative media coverage and protests.”

He congratulated Byrne on “an amazing victory.”

“The people of Toms River want good government that works for the people,” Rodrick said. “That is what Bill Byrne and our team will continue to do.”

Geoghegan was unable to be reached Tuesday night. His campaign’s social media page as well as the social media pages for Republicans for Toms River had not published any commentary on the election results.

Byrne, should he succeed in November’s general election, will replace Councilman George Lobman, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Rodrick’s ascension to mayor. Lobman said early on in his tenure on the council that he was not interested in running for a full term.

Byrne will face his Democratic opponent, Susan Payne Gato, a progressive activist and disability advocate, who ran unopposed.

Click to comment