There is a primary race in Interlaken for the mayor’s seat as well as two Borough Council seats.
Two mayoral candidates and three Borough Council candidates are seeking the local Republican Party nod in the upcoming June 2 primary to run on the GOP line in the Nov. 3 general election.
Mayor Michael Nohilly is being challenged in the primary by Councilman Keith Miller, who ran in a GOP primary four years ago as a mayoral write-in candidate.
Mayoral terms in Interlaken are four years and the mayor only votes if there is a tie among the six council members.
Three candidates are also seeking the GOP nod in the primary for two, three-year terms up for grabs on the council in November
Council President Robert White, who has served for two full terms, and Councilman Mervin Franks, who is seeking his first full term after serving a one-year unexpired term, are being challenged by newcomer John Rush Butler.
Nohilly was chairman of the Shade Tree Commission for six years and spent three years as a councilman and four years as mayor.
“I’m not a political person and have never had political aspirations,” he said. “I’ve dedicated countless hours to our community simply because I care about it. I’ve learned that being a mediator to help find solutions that every resident can live with is the secret. The best solution is usually a bit of a compromise from both sides and the most effective leaders recognize that the best solution to any issue usually lies somewhere in the middle.”
Nohilly said any feasibility study to merge with Loch Arbour remains up in the air.
“We wanted to consider this if it could be a win/win for everyone, but the most important consideration for me, as mayor, is to avoid exposing Interlaken to any potential risk. Without majority support, it makes little sense to commission any studies funded by the taxpayer,” he said.
Miller, who has been on the council for five years, said he had strong support from his party as a write-in candidate four years ago but that it is difficult to beat somebody whose name is actually on the ballot.
“I still believe I have that support based on the work I have done in the community and being on the ballot will give me a better chance of success,” he said.
The proposed consolidation and taxes are among Miller’s primary concerns.
“Our only tax base is our residents and, as costs escalate, so do our real estate taxes. Consolidation is something that has to be examined very closely and may provide some tax relief in the future,” he said.
White said he thinks this is an important time for Interlaken and feels he has served its residents well during his first two terms, citing a balanced budget, road improvements, and a shared-service agreement with the Deal police.
“As Council President, I feel I have brought some cohesiveness to the council so we can listen to each other, exchange ideas, and come to the right decisions for the borough,” he said.
And White said he believes residents need experienced council members, especially in light of the proposed consolidation with Loch Arbour.
“I feel residents deserve an experienced council member as we potentially encounter a change in demographics. We have a lot of work cut out for us,” he said.
Franks said he is seeking office again because he is open to the concerns of residents and has worked tirelessly on their behalf. He said he is working with the Office of Emergency Management to make Borough Hall an emergency shelter- the only shelter in the past has been the Allenhurst Fire House which is difficult for the elderly to get to.
Franks said the Loch Arbour consolidation proposal is a major issue that will affect Interlaken for years to come.
“We, as a council, have been diligent in our research in this matter and at the same time working to be transparent every step of the way. I want to see this issue to the end and ensure that residents are represented at the council table every step of the way. And, whatever the outcome, that it will be for the benefit of our community,” he said.
“I will not only work on the Loch Arbour consolidation issue but on maintaining an affordable property tax for our community and continuing to make Interlaken the lovely community that it is,” he said.
Butler, who has lived in Interlaken for a little more than a year and is a former banking executive, said he believes he can bring a new perspective to the council and has an extensive background in project management that can be useful.
“I am in love with the community and want to have a positive impact,” said Butler, who helped volunteer for last October’s Deal police 5k run.
He said that he has no comment about the proposed Interlaken/Loch Arbour merger at this time.