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Former T.R. Council President Looks to Make Comeback in GOP Primary

Councilman Kevin Geoghegan is sworn in as council vice president, Jan. 3, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Councilman Kevin Geoghegan is sworn in as council vice president, Jan. 3, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Dueling factions of Toms River Republicans, engaged in outright digital warfare complete with audio and document leaks being displayed on social media pages, will ultimately settle their scores at the ballot box in June.

Kevin Geoghegan, a retired police sergeant and the co-owner of the Silverton First Aid Squad, served on the township council – including a stint as president – until being ousted in an upset that saw the GOP establishment upended by a ticket led by current Mayor Dan Rodrick.

Geoghegan previously served as an at-large councilman, however in the June primary he will vie against William Byrne – supported by Rodrick’s contingent – to occupy a seat representing the second ward.

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The seat is currently occupied by George Lobman, who was appointed to fill the remainder of Rodrick’s term, but is not seeking a full term on the governing body.

Geoghegan is running with the support of the Republicans for Toms River organization, one of two active GOP organizations in town that nominally resulted from a split caused by a battle between County Chairman George Gilmore and Frank Holman, who replaced Gilmore after his conviction on tax charges. Gilmore was pardoned by President Donald Trump in the final days of his administration, and clawed his way back to lead the county GOP despite the crater-sized rift that resulted.

“Toms River is headed in the wrong direction,” Geoghegan’s announcement through the organization said. “The Toms River Police Department has been defunded and continues to be under attack. The Toms River animal shelter faces the threat of imminent closure or county takeover. There is no longer transparency or accountability in our local government. These are just a few of the reasons why Kevin has made the decision to jump in this year’s race.”

Byrne is a resident of the Holiday City at Silverton community, which is home to current Council Vice President Lynn O’Toole.

One Democratic candidate will run unopposed for the seat: Susan Payne Gato, an outspoken progressive who frequently attends township council meetings and has been a longtime advocate for Democrats in Ocean County and a number of social causes, some of which stem from her professional background in nursing.

New Jersey’s primary elections will be held June 4, 2024.

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