Mitch Seim, campaign manager for Stafford mayoral candidate John McMenamin, who last night toppled longtime incumbent Carl Block, said his team capitalized on the fact that members of their slate had deep and longstanding roots in the community but were not natural politicians.
“Because we had candidates who had been in town for 30 years, they knew everybody,” said Seim, who holds a PhD in medicinal chemistry. “They sat down at the beginning of this campaign eight weeks ago and identified 1,500 voters they knew in town. When we say that 1,000 of those voters had not participated in the last election, we knew we would be competitive. Based on the last mayoral election, we knew we needed 1,000 extra votes to win.”
Running on an anti-tax platform against a powerfully connected Republican machine with ties to county chairman George Gilmore, McMenamin received 3,538 votes (57.25%) to Block’s 2,622 (42.43%).918 votes – a little south of what Seim anticipated Mcmenamin needed to win, in what amounted to a shocker in this Ocean County town of 16,675 where Block has served as mayor since 1983.
The McMenamin team also won five out of six council seats to completely reverse course on the Block era.
“We had one ice cream social and two pancake breakfasts, which we estimate drew about 250 new people to the campaign,” Seim said. “Block was running a negative campaign against us, but at these functions, people saw that we were accessible and nice people, which contrasted with the way our candidates were being depicted.”