Political pundits in Central New Jersey rate 36-year-old Joseph DiBella as one of the rising stars of the Monmouth County Republican Party. But the race for Monmouth County Freeholder was DiBella’s second loss in a Special Election Convention. One week after winning a seat on the Howell Township Council in November 2002, he ran for the State Assembly in a race to fill the seat of the late Melvin Cottrell. DiBella lost by 34 votes to Ronald Dancer, the Mayor of Plumsted. The 36-year-old DiBella is a Vice President in the Employee Benefits Division of Commerce Insurance Services. He began his political career in Middlesex County, where he won a seat on the Sayreville Board of Education at age 22, and later served as a Councilman before relocating to Howell in 1998. He ran for Mayor in 2003, when Democratic incumbent Timothy Konopka stepped down, and won 60% of the vote against DemocratSteven Farkas, another recent Howell resident who had previously run for the Legislature and Congress in Atlantic County.