VILLAS — Former Lower Township Councilman Michael Beck announced Monday he will run for mayor as an independent candidate.
He has chosen Kevin Lare as his running mate who is seeking a council-at-large seat. Lare, born and raised in Lower Township, served four years as a borough commissioner in West Cape May.
Beck served eight years on Lower Township Council, taught for 11 years at St. Raymond’s School in Villas and now at Our Lady Star of the Sea Regional School and had a 25-year career as a Philadelphia police officer, retiring in 1995 as a lieutenant.
He has separated himself from the Lower Township Republican Organization and, with Lare, is challenging incumbent Mayor Walter Craig, the Lower Republican Party leader and Deputy Mayor Robert Nolan.
Beck said his campaign is based on the belief that the solution to Lower Township’s problems cannot be found in political parties, but in people.
“We believe as independent township officials, we can make decisions based solely on what’s right for the township, not what’s right for the party or some special interest,” he said.
Beck said he was often at the short end of 4-1 votes on issues during his time on council.
“I stood and defended this town,” he said.
Beck said to those who have lost faith in public officials, “Try us, it will be different.”
“We truly will be government for the people,” he said. “We will be the most transparent council and government in the state when we are done.”
Beck said he and Lare are seeking office because they don’t like the direction the current administration is taking the township.
Lare said his willingness to run for public office again was based on the opportunity to serve with Beck, whom he called a “straight shooter.”
“He won’t always tell you what you want to hear, he’ll tell you how it is,” said Lare. “I think that is missing in government today.”
He said he wanted to control costs so his children can some day afford to buy a home and remain in the township.
“People have soured on government and it’s a shame because it’s the politics that have soured people,” said Lare.
Beck and Lare are asking all candidates to agree not to use lawn signs, which clutter up the township.
They said they would not accept contributions from any person, company or organization that does or has the potential to do business with the township, including lawyers, engineers, architects or municipal accountants.
Another pledge is to run a “clean campaign” and accordingly they will not place the names or photos of their opponents in campaign mailings, said Beck.
He said the current council acts as a dog chasing its tail. A rumor starts such as the replacement of the township manager or dissolution of the MUA; initially there is denial and backroom caucuses, then a member of the public questions council precipitating months and months of discussion and arguing, said Beck.
He said his intention is to take a problem, “pull it apart, show the public all the parts of the problem,” and offer different avenues for a solution rather than tell the public “this is the way we are going.”
Beck said he is calling for “true partnership with the people, unhampered by special interests and by politics.”
The team plans to issue “position papers” to outline their beliefs on a variety of problems facing the township.
Beck said a turning point for him was June 20, 2005 when township council went into closed session in a back room to vote raises for themselves. Beck was the only dissenting council member, he said.
Government is sitting still in Lower Township, not accomplishing anything, said Beck.
“The answer to Lower Township’s problems are not in raising more taxes, it is in controlling spending through unique ways,” he said.