Marlboro Councilman Jeff Cantor is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. He has been deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. In November’s election, Cantor is looking to parlay that military experience and his work as a councilmember into a position as the new Monmouth County sheriff. However, in order to claim that seat, the Democratic candidate has to face off against incumbent Republican Shaun Golden.
According to Cantor, his entrance into the race was partly spawned by the fact that Golden serves as the Monmouth County Republican Chairman in addition to serving as the county’s sheriff.
“When I looked at the current sheriff–and I like Shaun, he is a nice guy–but the fact that he is a political boss and sheriff is completely wrong,” Cantor said. “He definitely has undue influence on the freeholders. They need the line and he controls the line. And then the freeholders control his budget. How that is not a conflict of interest, I really don’t know. They have to toe the line for him, unfortunately.”
While PolitickerNJ reached out to Golden to refute Cantor’s claims that his two position’s negatively counteract one another, the Monmouth GOP chairman did not respond directly to those comments. Instead, Golden took the opportunity to skewer Cantor for what he claimed were attempts to distract voters from the issues at hand during the election.
Golden said: “This election is about ensuring an efficient and high quality county government, protecting our taxpayers, and keeping Monmouth County safe and secure. Democratic Councilman Cantor is trying to distract voters from the massive property tax increases and fiscal recklessness we have seen under his watch in his hometown of Marlboro. These policies would spell disaster for Monmouth County residents should the Democratic Councilman from Marlboro hold countywide office.”
Cantor said that, if elected, he hopes to focus on the heroin epidemic in Monmouth County, create an anti-terrorism unity, create a common operation picture to better understand the needs of Monmouth County and cut what he called “wasteful spending” in the Sheriff’s Office.
“Right now I don’t see fiscal conservatism coming out of the Sheriff’s Office,” Cantor said. “I see wasteful spending and I absolutely will significantly curtail the amount of wasteful spending.”
Cantor highlighted the recent purchase of a boat for a Maritime Unit by the Sheriff’s Office as an example of expenditure he would cut if elected. He said that due to the number of boats in Monmouth’s waters patrolled by the Coast Guard and others, a new boat is redundant. He also said he would try and curb overtime pay in an effort to cut spending.
According to Golden, because Cantor has never worked directly in law enforcement, he does not understand the need for such special services.
“During my time at the Sheriff’s Office, we have implemented over 30 public safety initiatives for children and seniors, enacted countless shared service agreements, and homeland security initiatives designed to keep our schools, malls, and critical infrastructure safe. We also began the first in the state ‘Special Needs Registry,’ a free and voluntary program which lets emergency responders know about residents with autism and other special needs when they are responding to calls. In fact, we were able to accomplish all this with a budget reduction,” Golden told PolitickerNJ. “Given his lack of law enforcement experience, Democratic Councilman Cantor simply does not understand the value of special units within the Sheriff’s office. In a post-Sandy world, we must take every measure to ensure the lives and property of County residents are protected.”
While Cantor is running as a Democrat, the sheriff candidate has run for office as a Republican in the past and switched parties in 2009. According to Cantor, political delineations are not a central part of his desire to run for office.
“I put people before politics,” Cantor said. “I don’t necessarily like the political system the way it is right now. You certainly need the party support in order to run for a position.”
However, according to Golden, by running as a Democrat, Cantor is supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential run despite what he perceives as “poor track record” on veteran issues from the presidential candidate.
“Councilman Cantor previously ran for a county government position as a Republican and lost,” Golden told PolitickerNJ via email. “Now, he’s running as a Democrat, which is shocking given his running-mate Hillary Clinton’s poor track record on veterans’ issues and her lack of support for the law enforcement community. The residents of Monmouth County know that he was unqualified then, and under the Clinton campaign unqualified now.”
According to Cantor, he and freeholder candidates are hoping to build upon momentum from last November’s election when Democratic candidates Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey usurped assembly seats from long-time Republican incumbents.
“I definitely think we have a lot of momentum behind us,” Cantor said. “When I go out and talk to people, people are tired of the status quo. They are tired of politics as usual and they want a change.That is why I am here. I understand the issues affecting Republicans, I understand the issues affecting Democrats and I have enough common sense to be able to apply resources to both.”
For Cantor, his military experience has set him up with a strong foundation to be sheriff.
“One thing that the military teaches you is that you have a common mission,” Cantor said. “It doesn’t matter who that person to your left or right is, it doesn’t matter if they are Democrat or Republican, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor. It doesn’t matter. You have a mission to accomplish. That is the mentality I bring to the table. Sheriff Golden is a very partisan person. He is not in a position to do that, I am.”
Golden and Cantor will face off in November.