Exclusive: Three months after Lakewood, NJ’s incumbent Township Committeeman, 62-year-old State Senator Robert (Bob) Singer, beat 44-year-old Hershel (Harold) Herskowitz in the Republican primary for a seat on Lakewood’s governing body, Matzav.com has confirmed that Senator Singer will be dropping out of the race. Rumors to this effect had been swirling for the last week, and we have verified that Singer – one of a small number of Garden State politicians who hold two political positions – will not be running for Township Committee in November, ending a decades-long career in the municipality.
Singer is serving his twenty-first year in the New Jersey State Legislature. He served three terms in the General Assembly, where he acted as Majority Whip from 1992 to 1993. In the State Senate, Singer represents the 30th District, which includes parts of Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Mercer counties.
Back in June, Singer beat Herskowitz by 550 votes in a hard fought battle.
Singer has been a member of the Lakewood Township Committee for twenty-nine years and has been mayor four times. He is married, has four children, and has been a Lakewood resident for over 30 years.
At the beginning of August, just a few weeks after an effort by supporters of Hershel Herskowitz to have the owner of Toys for Thought in Lakewood run as an independent for Lakewood Township Committee was rejected by the Ocean County Clerk, another frum Lakewood resident, Isaac Akerman, announced that he would be running against Singer.
A plan had been put in place for Herskowitz to fill the slot of independent candidate 23-year-old Shalom Egert, but that effort was quickly put to bed by the Ocean County Clerk. Akerman then announced that he would be running in Egert’s stead. [Egert has since announced that he is running for the position of Ocean County Clerk.]
Akerman, of Lapsley Lane in Lakewood, grew up in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn and learned at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He later learned at Yeshiva Lev Avrohom and Mir Yerushalayim in Eretz Yisroel before joining Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, where he learned in kollel for 6 years following his marriage at age 21.
Akerman has served on the Lakewood Planning Board for a number of years.
With Singer dropping out, the ballot in November will now feature Akerman as an independent, and 54-year-old Marta Harrison, a former township committeewoman who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Lakewood School Board Member Carl Fink, in a statement yesterday, said that he has been approached by some individuals and asked to run in Senator Singer’s stead in the upcoming election.
“The consensus was that based on my performance on the planning board and the Board of Education,” said Fink, “my candidacy would be of benefit to the town. Isaac Ackerman is an exceptional candidate, and if I decided not to run, then I would fully support Isaac. It was with this in mind that I am contemplating jumping in. I think a fresh mind with no favors owed to anyone would be appreciated.”
One of the criticisms lodged against Singer by Herskowitz during their recent campaign is the two hats that he has worn as committeeman and state legislator for more than two decades. Future “double-dipping” among public officeholders is now illegal, though lawmakers such as Singer have been exempt through a grandfather clause.