As Election Day nears, Lacey Patch is profiling the candidates for municipal office. check out our Voter Guide and come back to Patch for more profiles in the coming weeks.
- Candidate Name: Mark Dykoff
- Age: 52
- Address: 554 Dogwood Lane, Forked River
- Occupation: Manager of the Hazlet Motor Vehicle Agency
- Marital Status: Married for 29 years; has two daughters.
Mayor Mark Dykoff isn’t running for re-election to make any grand changes, he said.
“Most people who run for office say they’re running to change things, and that’s not why I got involved,” he said. “I recognized in Lacey Township that it was and still is a great town to live in, and I want to carry that on.”
Now in his ninth year on the committee, Dykoff is seeking a fourth term. He and fellow Republican Gary Quinn contend for two committee seats with Shawn Judson as the lone Democrat vying for municipal office.
“My contribution is I bring a business sense and a common sense to the committee,” Dykoff said.
Working in the private sector as an operations manager for a family home improvement business for 26 years, Dykoff believes he offers experience in budgeting and negotiations, he said.
“I noticed early on when I got into politics that it seemed like you had to have a kind of hybrid business sense and public sector sense or private sector sense,” he said.
Communication with the township workforce and committee people has been key, he said.
“This year, with the Democratic sitting committeepersons, it took a special form of communication to pass the budget and come to a common goal of bringing the township together,” he said.
While the Democrats primarily ran to change things, the year took an “interesting” turn as Committee members Sean Sharkey and Helen DelaCruz voted with the Republicans often, Dykoff said.
“I think what the Democratic members of the Committee realized is that the township’s run pretty good,” he said. “We’ve had a bipartisan budget passed the last two years. There has been no offers of radical changes so obviously we’re doing something right."
The most important challenge facing Lacey Township is to run the municipality efficiently while maintaining services and keeping taxes affordable, Dykoff said.
The economy still poses a threat, he said.
“As anyone who has read the newspaper knows that every township, every county, every state went through those same challenges,” he said. “I think that Lacey Township is coming through it better than most.”
Dykoff can’t promise to lower taxes, he said.
“Previous opponents of ours have promised to lower taxes and not to bond. It’s not realistic to say you’re not going to raise taxes. It’s not realistic to say you’re not going to bond because as much as you want to, that’s reality in order to maintain services,” he said.
Lacey will face the loss of a large ratable in 2019, when Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is shuttered.
The township has made decent progress in the area, Dykoff said, garnering support from local and state governments to have a new generating station built in Lacey. A gas-powered plant seems the most plausible.
In the meantime, Dykoff is working with 9th District legislators, particularly Sen. Christopher Connors, in trying to divert funds that are still going toward Yucca Mountain, a nuclear waste repository in Nevada, although it was federally defunded.
“If you look to the future, we have got to come up with a solution to the possible closure of Oyster Creek,” Dykoff said.
If Lacey ends up having to house Oyster Creek’s spent fuel for many years to come, the money going toward Yucca Mountain should be diverted back as a “host community fund,” Dykoff said. This would have to be done on a national level.
The township also is currently looking into alternative energy projects such as solar farms, as it recently approved a Request for Proposals with Birdsall Engineering, Dykoff said.
The township also continues to negotiate shared services with neighboring municipalities, in which Lacey would most likely be the lead agency, Dykoff said, as well as negotiate with its unions.
“One thing walking door to door people tell me is what a great town we have. We need to maintain that,” he said. “People expect a certain level of service in Lacey. We need to make sure we can get it as affordable as possible, make sure we can bring as much revenue in as we can and make sure Lacey Township gets its fair share of what’s out there.”
One area the township is lacking is its police force, number wise.
“We need to get our police force back up to numbers that ensure the safety of Lacey Township,” he said. “Everything reverts back to the economy. The safety is affected by the economy. Theoretically, if the economy gets better, the crime should go down.”
The Committee is looking into hiring additional police officers, Dykoff said. But to do so, the township would have to either make cuts or raise taxes. However, several senior officers are up for retirement, potentially opening slots for new recruits.
Another issue that has come up as Dykoff knocks on doors campaigning is the Rail Trail, especially on the east side of Lanoka Harbor, he said.
Dykoff doesn’t see spending as a major problem in Lacey Township, although it has spent years in litigation over the proposed road project. Once the township is granted a permit, Dykoff is confident funding will be made available for the project, he said.
“I’m confident it will get built,” he said. “That and the expansion of Lacey Road and Route 9 are important parts of the future of Lacey Township and the ability of people getting safely around."
Campaigning as if He’s '10 Votes Behind'
Dykoff and Quinn will continue to campaign and knock on doors in the upcoming weeks to election, he said.
“I think for the most part, people think we’re doing a pretty good job,” he said, pointing out that in 2009, the opposing party only had one candidate running for a two-seat election and in 2006, the Democrats had an empty ballot.
“Overall, most people in Lacey Township, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, like the way we’re doing things,” he said. “And case in point, if you look in the past two years and the way the two Democrats have voted with us, we’re along the same lines. I don’t see how changing control will make it better.”
Dykoff added that lone Democratic candidate Judson does not possess enough experience.
“Her comment that when she gets elected, she’ll listen and learn, I just think right now that’s not what Lacey needs,” he said. “We already have two pretty inexperienced committee persons representing that party.”
The 2012 municipal race has the potential for a party power shift as three Republicans and two Democrats currently head the committee. A Republican majority has maintained the committee for more than a decade.
“A very wise man told me, you always campaign like you’re 10 votes behind,” Dykoff said. “I’m campaigning like I’m 10 votes behind.”
The next Republican event is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 at Latitudes On The River.