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Jan 2024

Bacchione Will Be Mayor, Amato State Senator in 2024


By Eric San Juan

As this edition goes to press, Carmen Amato and John Bacchione are preparing to be sworn into their new positions as State Senator and Berkeley Mayor, respectively. Both ran in the 2023 election and won by wide margins.
Winning by 21,000 votes and a roughly 68-32 margin, Amato joined Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Stafford Township Mayor Gregory Myhre to become part of the 9th District legislative team, replacing longtime Senator Christopher Connors.
“Each vote was a testament to your belief in a brighter future,” Amato said on Facebook. “Thank you, constituents, for your unwavering support. Your trust inspires me to work harder every day. I look forward to working on your behalf.”
Connors served in the State Senate since 2008, when he took over the seat from his father, Leonard T. Connors. Len Connors served in the position since 1981. Last year, Chris Connors announced that he would not seek reelection.
Once Connors announced he was stepping down, Amato’s road to the seat was relatively clear. He faced no opposition for the seat within the Republican Party, and ran in a district that has voted solidly Republican for decades. He also brought with him decades of experience as a recognizable name in local government.
After an attempt to run for town council in 1999, Amato began his political career on the Berkeley Township Board of Education in 2000, and later won a seat on the Central Regional Board of Education. In 2003, when then-Assemblyman Jeffrey W. Moran was set to become Ocean County Surrogate, Amato was among those who put himself forward for consideration to fill the seat. The seat ultimately went to Assemblyman Rumpf.
In 2005, he defeated former councilman Peter J. Mustardo to join the town council. Then, in 2012, he ran for mayor and won, a position he has held since.
In addition to his history in office, Amato has worked with the Ocean County Board of Health and the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
Amato now represents most of the Ocean County shore region from Bay Head in the north through Long Beach Island in the south, and portions of the county from Manchester and Berkeley Townships in the north to Tuckerton and Little Egg in the south.
Meanwhile, Councilman Bacchione is now Mayor Bacchione. Like Amato, he won by wide margins, pulling in 74 percent of the vote and defeating his opponent, Kia Phua, by 6,000 votes. Re-elected along with him were Councilmen Thomas Grosse and Keith Buscio. Douglas Bowens joins them as a new member of the town council. All won by large margins.
Bacchione has three decades behind him as a veteran of the mortgage industry. He has been an elected official in Berkeley since 2009. He served on the Berkeley Township Board of Education from 2009 to 2011, then, in 2012 he was elected to the town council, where he has served since, often with a focus on finance.
“I would like to thank the citizens of Berkeley Township for their support of myself, and my running mates,” Bacchione said on Facebook. “Berkeley is a great place to live work, raise a family and retire and we intend to keep it that way.
“Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Mayor Carmen Amato for leading us the last 12 years. Berkeley Township is better place because of his leadership.”
Berkeley Township Council meetings are held on the 4th Monday of the month at 6 pm in Town Hall, 627 Pinewald-Keswick Road.