BRICK-Brick Democrat Mayor John Ducey has been a staunch political ally of the Lakewood political establishment going as far back as 2014 when then candidate for U.S. Senator, Cory Booker held a high stakes fundraiser at the home of a private donor.
Ducey attended that political function, rubbing elbows with Lakewood’s political elite, with his campaign manager, former Lakewood Township Committeeman Mitch Seim at his side as the two swooned over Senator Booker while raising money from the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community for their respective political campaigns.
Five years later, Ducey is in hot water with that same political establishment to his west for a tweet he sent to a constituent in his hometown of Brick Township.
Today, Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles lashed out at his fellow Democrat.
“Dear Mayor Ducey, I read with some dismay your response to a Brick resident who said our parks and beaches are being invaded by the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews…” Coles wrote.
Coles’ letter was in response to an exchange that has gone viral around the globe in the past 24 hours.
“@MayorDucey can we please do something about our parks and beaches. They are being invaded by the hasidic and orthodox jews and being ruined. Our tax paying residents are being forced out while politicians sit and do nothing,” wrote an account by the name of “The Big Kahuna”.
“Our parks security has started already,” Ducey responded. “Just call police with any problems and they will send them out.”
Ducey’s response set off a global firestorm that had the Democrat Mayor finally make the front page of the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, but probably not in the manner he had probably originally imagined.
In a report by the Asbury Park Press, Ducey said to the newspaper, “It’s just a misunderstanding, My response from people who don’t know me got kind of misconstrued. They were trying to twist that around.”
That’s probably the case, after all, until Wednesday, Ducey’s political ties to Lakewood remained strong. His campaign manager, Mitch Seim, who accompanied him to that high profile meeting was also the campaign manager for several Lakewood mayoral candidates.
At one time, Seim, one of Ducey’s closest political advisors maintained his residents at the home of former Lakewood Mayor Marta Harrison and served on the Ocean County Democratic Committee as a Lakewood resident and delegate.
It’s hard to imagine Ducey would intentionally dish any ill-will towards the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community, but his apology was apparently not enough to soothe concerns for Lakewood Mayor Coles.
“I Trust you did NOT mean that law abiding citizens of a particular faith would be ejected merely because of their religion,” Coles wrote. “…there is no place in America, New Jersey or Ocean County that will tolerate bigotry, racism or bias of any kind.”
Essentially, Ducey put his foot in his mouth as he has done so often in the past when dealing with issues involving his town, now he is being dragged through the proverbial coals, or should we say “Coles” for his obvious Freudian slip.
As the political posturing between Coles and Ducey continues, Brick now has put itself on the map of regional anti-Semitism claims, joining nearby Jackson and Toms River.
Later in the day, Ducey doubled down on his misstep.
This twitter feed (and the world in general) is no place for bigotry or hateful comments. They are hurtful and divisive. They are condemned by me and all who are trying to make a difference in the world. Look for the good in you and others and the world will be a bettter place.
— Mayor Ducey (@MayorDucey) April 24, 2019
Only time will tell before Ducey, a staunch ally of Governor Phil Murphy and Senator Booker, who are both well-liked in Lakewood can resolve the matter before the fundraising cycle for Brick Democrats begins ahead of the important 2019 November municipal elections.
Brick Township councilman, Republican James Fozman said Ducey should consider resigning from office. Political missteps in neighboring towns of Jackson and Toms River have cost taxpayers millions of dollars when politicians made remarks against the Orthodox Jewish community that were construed as anti-Semitic. Both towns were sued for statements by their mayors in recent years.
Main photo: Senator Cory Booker and Mayor John Ducey arrive at a lavish Lakewood residence in 2014 to raise money for campaign funding.