Barnegat Mayor John Novak, who was appointed in January to lead the Township as a Republican, is running as an Independent for one of two open seats on the Ocean County Freeholder Board this November.

Barnegat Mayor John Novak, Independent candidate for OC Freeholder. Photo by Tom Mongelli, TSM News

During an appearance on "Townsquare Tonight" on News Talk 1160 & 1310 WOBM-AM, Novak said running for county office is "an opportunity to really bring a spirit of governance that is sorely lacking."

Novak is a life long county resident and native of Lakewood. The attorney and former State Police Trooper touted his ability to make progress in Barnegat through cooperation with the Town Committee.

He pointed out that Barnegat has gone from being indebted and having fiscal complications to now having its bond rating increased, saying that's something he'd like to bring to the Freeholder Board.

"Transparency in local government has been one of the hallmark initiatives that I professed that I would endeavor to do back January, and I've done that," said Novak.

He cited a recent survey from politicsoc.com naming Barnegat the most transparent municipality in Ocean County.

Novak added that he has learned whatever you vote on, 60 percent of the people will be unhappy, "But, as long as you do things the right way, with a purity of motive, good people will see that."

Novak said there are many problems on the county level, and alluded that political backscratching might have influenced decisions not as widely publicized by the Freeholder Board. Novak cited a so-called $100 million upgrade to the courthouse as one example of an issue that he claims seems to have been planned in secrecy.

"If you don't trust the public enough to tell them everything, you have to wonder if the public is going to trust you back," Novak said. He reiterated that having a more transparent process might get people to buy into the plan.

Novak noted that he has been in all 21 county courthouses in New Jersey and has been in at least 100 municipal courthouses statewide and doesn't feel the project is needed.

"The current courthouse is adequate, but not necessarily as good as some people would like it. It's not the absolute very best, it's not optimal, but it's adequate," said Novak. He added, "$100 million is an awful lot of money."

Novak pointed out that taxpayers in Ocean County got hit with Sandy, local governments go hit with a reduced rateable rate and are now facing a 23-cent a gallon hike in the gas tax, which he said will hit Ocean County harder than most, since commuters here travel more miles.

Novak considers himself a rogue Republican and said he has a moral compass.

"In Barnegat, everybody on the Township Committee knows that I don't have a county job, nobody in my family has a county job, nobody is beholden to anybody accept the people that elected me. I made that clear the very first day. Everyone understands where I'm coming from," Novak said.

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