With the possibility of two open up for grabs this fall, Democratic candidates Peter Pappas and Michele Batista have a chance to give their party complete control of the governing body in November's election.
Pappas, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and Batista, a 57-year-old psychotherapist, are both making their first bids for elected office in an election in which the only two Republican-held seats on the council may be vacated by incumbents , who has already announced she is not running for reelection, and Don Grasso, a former GOP member who says he is still undecided about seeking another term.
Both Democratic candidates said they would work to preserve the town as an attractive shore community for both its residents and visitors.
Pappas, who taught and coached sports at the High School and was the president of the Manasquan Education Association, said the borough's small town atmosphere is one of its biggest strengths.
“I like the way it is. I like the way it’s run. I like all the little things about the town," Pappas said.
Batista, a single mother who moved to Manasquan in the early 1990s, said she was amazed after experiencing the community's goodwill from almost the day she arrived in town.
Batista said that while she attended and commuted to graduate school in New York City, several neighbors offered to watch her daughter.
“It was such a welcoming community here," Batista said.
Like her Batista said the partisan bickering between current council members was undermining residents' interests.
“You don’t resort to negativity and name-calling. I think you have to keep it all positive and I think you have to be an effective listener," Batista said.
Batista, who was also a school administrator, said her work as both a psychotherapist and with school districts taught her the neccessary tools to be an effective leader.
“I think because of my background as an administrator and someone who’s worked with budgets, negotiations, contracts and buildings and grounds, I just think it’s a position that I could fill nicely," Batista said.
Her listening skills, Batista said, would also benefit the council.
"I think I’m an effective listener and I think that comes through my training as a therapist,” she said.
Both candidates said that their main goal was to, as the slogan goes, "keep Manasquan Manasquan."
They each said they had no plans to shake the status quo if elected to council.
“It’s about what the people’s issues are," Batista said. “I think the people will create my platform.”
Batista said she would try to make sure the council spent wisely.
“I think you have to spend smarter – It’s not necessarily spend more, but it’s spend smarter," she said. “The mayor’s been doing a nice job of that lately and that’s why I want to be part of his team.”