UPPER TOWNSHIP — Two veteran incumbents running to keep their seats on Township Committee will face a challenge in the Republican primary in June, but no Democrats filed to run by the recent deadline to appear on the ballot.
Mayor Rich Palombo and Committeeman Ed Barr are running as a ticket. Former township employee Jon K. Grubb wants one of the seats. His name will appear on the June 5 Republican primary ballot, when township Republicans also face a choice of whom to support for the GOP nominations for the Senate and House of Representatives.
Palombo, 63, has been on the committee for more than 20 years. Under the township’s form of government, committee members choose a mayor from within their ranks. This year marked the 19th time in a row the committee has chosen Palombo.
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Barr, 54, is after his third full term on the committee. He was initially appointed to the seat when former member Kristine Gabor resigned in 2012, after her election to the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Barr and Palombo have the backing of the Cape May County Republican Organization.
This will be Grubb’s third try for a spot on committee. He came in third last year as voters returned Curtis Corson to the committee. Corson took 2,191 votes, with Democratic candidate Kiesha Bond drawing 1,659, the closest a Democrat has come to a seat in Upper Township in many years. Running as an independent, Grubb took 376 votes. He also ran unsuccessfully for a committee seat in the primary in 2016.
Contacted for this story, Grubb said there was “a list of reasons” he wanted to be on the committee but indicated he would rather talk about them later. Subsequent attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. In previous races, he’s told reporters that keeping an eye on township finances was a big part of his motivation for running.
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Grubb had been a truck driver with the township but was dismissed from that position in 2005, according to a report published in the Upper Township Gazette. He appealed the dismissal through the courts, until the state Supreme Court declined to revisit an appellate court decision.
Grubb owns KB Property Management in the township.
Barr, the township’s deputy mayor, retired from the Hamilton Township Police Department as a lieutenant after 27 years. He works in sales for ABC Supply Co. He graduated from Stockton University and holds a master's degree in public administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“I’ve always been involved in public service,” he said. He wants to remain on the committee to continue work on growing the commercial centers in the township: Marmora, Seaville and Tuckahoe. He believes if the township can get a full exit and entrance to the Garden State Parkway in Seaville, businesses in that area will grow.
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Palombo is a pharmacist by trade, working in government affairs for Express Scripts.
“I feel there are still so many things to accomplish,” he said when asked why he wanted another term. He said his experience and contacts help the township and cited keeping the B.L. England power generating plant open and preventing the de-annexation of the Strathmere section of the township as major accomplishments.
He also said the township has managed to maintain services without major increases to the tax rate.
Upper Township’s governing body is entirely Republican and has been for years. While Bond had a strong showing last year, in most Township Committee races, the Republican primary decides the election.