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Name Recognition Key for Squan Candidates

Party leaders tout pols' longstanding work within community

With this year's likely to be a hard-fought battle for two seats on the dais, one thing both the GOP and Democratic candidates have in common, according to party leaders, is their name recognition.

All four candidates, party heads say, have for years been involved in the community through volunteer organizations or other government boards and committees, meaning that while most may be new to the campaign trail, they are anything but new faces to borough residents.

Republicans Greg Olivera and Michael Sinneck this November will be looking to preserve two GOP-elected seats on the council from Democrats Peter Pappas and Michele Batista. All four candidates will run unopposed in the June primaries.

The seats currently held by Republican Councilwoman Patricia Connolly, who has for reelection, and Conservative Party Councilwman Don Grasso, who was elected to office as a Republican but recently switched parties after falling out of favor with GOP leaders, will be up for grabs this fall. Grasso said in an email Tuesday that his re-election plans, if any, were "still up in the air."

"At the local election level, it’s all about name recognition and knowing people in town regardless of the party," Republican Party Chairman Rich Dunne said.

Olivera currently sits on the Tourism Commission and has been involved with several recreation programs, Dunne said.

Sinneck, meanwhile, chairs the Environmental Commission and is on the Planning Board, Dunne added.

The Democrats, while currently not on any governmental commissions or boards, have their own deep resumes working with the community, according to Councilman and Democratic Party Chairman Michael Mangan.

Pappas is a life-long educator who taught at Manasquan High School and put his children through the school system, Mangan said.

Batista, a former Republican, has been involved in several volunteer organizations throughout the years, Magan said.

“They're both visionaries and good-ideas people who won’t have personal political agendas and who just want to do what’s right for the town,” Mangan said.

On the Republican side, Dunne has said his party was looking to make a fresh start after deciding not to support Connolly's possible re-election and distancing itself from former GOP member Grasso.

Sinneck, semi-retired, has a background in business and finance, and the younger Olivera works in the information technology field, Dunne said. Both are involved in the Manasquan Elks Club, Dunne added.

"They’re both very well-spoken. They have been involved with the community and have good name recognition to start with," Dunne said. "So these two guys bring that with them."

And while the Republicans conducted formal interviews with their potential candidates, the Democrats, Mangan said, went through a much more informal process.

"These individuals enjoy unanimous support from every member of the leadership of the Democratic Party," Mangan said. “We’re excited and hopeful for a victory in the fall.”

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