Howell: Republicans may be unopposed

Two former Republican Planning Board members were the only ones who filed to run for mayor and a seat on the Township Council Monday; although an independent councilman indicated that he may still enter the race for mayor in June.

Republican Russell F. Bohlin of Belmar Boulevard filed to run as mayor to replace current Republican Mayor Joseph DiBella, who chose not to seek re-election. Republican Paul Schneider, a former Planning Board chairman, filed to run for the Township Council for the seat currently held by GOP Councilwoman Cynthia Schomaker, who also is not running for re-election.

No Democrats or independents filed to run for either post. Three of the four council seats in Howell are currently held by independents.

Bohlin said he believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the challenges facing the township. “I know I can make a difference,” the 55-year-old said of his decision to run for mayor.

Bohlin, who first drew public attention in 2005 for leading a challenge on behalf of 61 neighbors against a residential developer, recently championed an opposition to the rezoning of a mobile home park.

“I constantly advocated to minimize the impact of development proposals on neighboring residents and the community as a whole,” Bohlin said of his time on the Planning Board.

While he currently has no opponents in the November election, that could change. Independent Councilman Robert Walsh, who served as deputy mayor last year, said he has not made a decision as to whether or not he will run for mayor but that he will decide before the June primary.

Schneider also will run uncontested in the Republican primary for the open council seat. Appointed to a number of township panels and commissions dating back to the late 1950s, Schneider said that now that he has retired from his job as director of a pharmaceutical chain, he can devote what he calls the necessary time needed to sit on the township’s governing body.

“I consider this position on council as more time consuming,” said Schneider, who served on the township’s now defunct Board of Health from 1958 to 1985, helped to establish the township’s Shade Tree Commission in 1967 and was also a member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the township’s Mobile Home Rent Control Board and Environmental Commission, as well as professional associations.

No Democrats filed for either the mayor or council position before the Monday deadline, although a nominee could emerge through write-in votes.

“We had a few prospective candidates, but at the end of the day no one wanted to run,” said Democratic Club President Steven Morlino.

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