Cunliffe’s Back: Seeks to Run as Independent for Lakewood Committee


cunliffeCharles Cunliffe, remember him? Well, while the partisan races for seats on the Township Committee in Lakewood, NJ, are uncontested for the primary election Tuesday, candidates could encounter a third-party challenge from a recognizable face in November. Less than a year after he was pushed out for being what he called a political “lighting rod,” Charles Cunliffe is circulating petitions to run as an independent, saying the Republican and Democratic parties have been “co-oped” by developers and landlords, among others.

“They control the political activity in town on both sides of the aisle,” he said Thursday. “We thought the only viable option would be to go with a third party.”

The former four-term committeeman and two-time mayor said he has built a sizable constituency, comprised mostly of senior voters who feel disenfranchised under the current government.

Larry Simons, Cunliffe’s campaign manager of sorts, said he hoped to recruit enough supporters to break from the “old-time politics” practiced by a Township Committee that he described as a “buddy system.” Simons is well known for his constant criticism of the Township Committee.

“People speak out, but they’re not being heard,” Simons said. He cited as an example the committee’s decision to cut the school budget by just 1.1 percent after voters defeated it.

Cunliffe, who is sharing a ticket with former small-business owner Lynn Celli, must turn in his petitions by Tuesday, though assuming he has the minimum 100 signatures, he still will not be on the ballot until the general election in the fall.

As it stands, the primary elections for two open seats are uncontested: incumbent Menashe Miller and Hannah Havens on the GOP side, and incumbent Meir Lichtenstein and Miriam Medina on the Democratic ticket. Havens and Medina have previously run unsuccessfully for Township Committee seats.

Cunliffe, 55, a longtime Democrat, said he bowed out of last year’s race due to pressure from his party, which saw him as at odds with Lakewood’s power brokers. The election resulted in the first Republican takeover of the committee in 12 years.

{APP/Elisha Newscenter}



  1. You say he is an anti-semite. To me it seems that he wants to cut taxes. I’m all for that, so he’s got my vote!

  2. I wonder if those calling him an anti-semite actually live here in lakewood. Charlie was run out of office by opportunist developers who oposed hos version of the master plan, which would have greatly benefited the rest of us. Vote for cunliffe and solomon!

  3. he is exactly that one big jew hater i sat through township meetings all he spent his time doing was spewing hatred toward the towns jewish population and the jewish law makers

  4. Comments prove exactly why he needs to run. While pointing the one finger at him, look at where the other four fingers are pointing while accusing and placing labels on others.

  5. We love Charlie, and he has a big heart for everyone. While he does have high blood pressure, and gets into arguements with Father Steve all the time, he is not a Jew hater. He does wear his feelings on his sleeve, and he’s obviously unhappy about how he was pushed out by the insiders. While many try to portray him as anti-Semetic, he in fact is not. I don’t feel that it is the right way for him to get his message out, by running as an independant against Menashe and Meir, in essence biting the hand that fed him for many years, but I do understand his emotions. I don’t think he has the oilom’s interests in mind, and the Yeshiva and B’nei Torah will, and should, come out strongly against him, but NOT by saying that he hates Jews!! That simply is NOT the truth.

  6. Who does have the Oilem’s interest in mind and put them first?? Haven’t seen anyone like that in office yet…

  7. I wouldn’t say that he is an anti-semite, however he is not always accomodating to the jewish constituacy. and the idea of elections is to have represention of the constituency. if he does not represent the base he should not be on the commitee.
    that said obviosly there were many many times that he did cooperate with the kehilla. however in all he doesn’t represent the kehilla.

  8. To say Mr. Cunliff is against the Jewish community is just not true. Anyone who knows him, knows that. The problems with the entire existence of Lakewood are many. What we do not need is a “majority” rule. What we do need is someone who will truly represent “ALL” citizens of Lakewood. Someone who has the ability to meet the challenges of every single individual group. One who will not show favoritism, simply because of the “number” of any group. Someone who rights the injustices. Not someone who will snow over things that will only benefit certain groups of citizens in Lakewood. Those days should be abolished. It’s time for a change that will benefit “ALL” in Lakewood. All towns endure growing pains, yes, but Lakewood has endured more than most; and let’s be truthful, they are not all good ones. Instead of using the majority rule/power to vote Mr. Cunlifee right out before he even steps in; why not utilize that short period of time and actually see if he can improve things? I don’t like that there’s a huge unfair advantage in our voting here in Lakewood…Lets be individuals first – and not always follow what we’re “told” to do, or who we’re “told” to vote for. Let’s see if he can actually make a difference before we destroy his chances of even trying. That’s seems pretty unfair. Anyone who lives here is well aware of the block busting, illegal hiring, tax increases through the roof, developement out of control, etc. Something/someone needs to, at the very least, put some control on these situations. Like I’ve already said, Lakewood should belong to “ALL
    it’s residents, not just the majority rule. That’s wrong and desperately needs to change. Nobody likes being ruled unfairly – everyone should have a voice, everyone!