Deal Elections: A Candid Conversation with Mayor Sam Cohen and Commissioner Jack Kassin

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Victor Cohen 

 

On May 14th, residents in Deal, New Jersey, will vote to determine who will govern for the next four years. 

 

How Deal Governance Works  

 

Deal is governed by a non-partisan commission, as prescribed by the Walsh Act. The Walsh Act, signed into law in 1911 by then Governor of New Jersey Woodrow Wilson, permits municipalities to adopt a non-partisan commission form of government. The commissions in Walsh Act municipalities are composed of either three or five members, elected for four-year terms. The commissioners themselves elect one commissioner as mayor, who serves as the chair of the commission. Most towns or cities conduct highly political mayoral elections. In Deal, this is not the case. 

 

In In the upcoming Deal elections,  three commissioners are running for election, one of whom will become mayor, as mentioned above. A two-thirds majority of the commissioners is required to pass any ordinance or bill. All significant resolutions are decided in this manner. 

 

I was privileged to interview two candidates in this year’s election, newly appointed Commissioner Jack Kassin, and Mayor Sam Cohen. They are both part of the Simhon-Cohen-Kassin team, which is seeking reelection. Let’s hear what they had to say. 

 

 

 

Commissioner Jack Kassin’s Vision for Deal 

 

Mr. Kassin stated, “My vision is to make Deal into a very nice neighborhood, to keep the idyllic small-town feeling.” One of Kassin’s goals is to improve and beautify Norwood Avenue. He proposes  more consistent signage and making Norwood Avenue more pedestrian-friendly. Mr. Kassin also discussed possible renovations for the Deal Casino. 

 

Mr. Kassin has a proud legacy of working with local community institutions, such as the Lawrence Avenue Synagogue. He has been involved with the synagogue and has been part of its committee since its dedication in 1984. He said, “I am devoted to that synagogue, to the rabbis, the committee, and the members of that congregation.” 

 

Mr. Kassin said,  “DSN is one of the biggest blessings and accomplishments in our community in a long, long time, and we’ve had many, thank Gd.” 

 

All faucets of DSN are active in the winter, including the sports leagues, the restaurants, and the use of the buildings themselves. Mr. Kassin noted that Deal’s population  is growing year-by-year. “I pray that this growth continues and we build from strength.” 

 

Summertime in Deal 

 

During the summer Deal changes quite a bit. “When the summer comes around,” Mr. Kassin said, “of course it becomes very exciting, filled with events, fundraisers, weddings, engagements, brit milot, you name it! 

 

“In the summer, thank Hashem, every single synagogue in the area is booming. It’s a beautiful thing to see, a beautiful thing to have going on, and it involves men, women, and children.” 

 

Strong Commitment to Deal 

 

Mr. Kassin’s involvement comes from a desire to do his part to help in all aspects of the town. He is proud to be a member of his team. He concluded, “Our team, starting with Mayor Cohen and Commissioner David Simhon, has a proven track record – caring deeply for the benefit of the community. They are honorable men, with great integrity, they love and care for everybody within Deal. The motivation strictly concerns what is good for the town, what’s good for the year-round and summer-only residents, and what is good for the overall benefit of the community.” 

 

Mayor Sam Cohen Weighs In 

 

One might ask why Mayor Cohen made the move from Brooklyn (he lived in the 70s between O and P) to Deal. He said that when he got to Deal, “I noticed immediately how much better life was there.” Between the tranquility of the town, the less aggressive drivers, and the ease of parking, Mayor Cohen decided to make the move to Deal and he has never looked back. 

 

Thirteen years ago, Mayor Harry Franco, a”h, told Sam Cohen that there was an opening for one of the commissioner spots, and that he thought Sam was right for the position. Sam was elected as one of the commissioners. Tragically, within a year Mayor Franco passed away. After a few more years serving as commissioner, Sam ran alongside David Simhon with the goal of becoming Deal’s next mayor, and won. 

 

Mayor Cohen’s Praise of DSN 

 

Mayor Cohen praised DSN wholeheartedly, citing DSN’s strong influence on the Jersey Shore community. DSN brought people in Deal together, especially the youth. It provided community members with a central meeting place, which provided a venue for events, sports, and even restaurants. DSN truly lives up to its name as the “Deal Sephardic Network,” and acts as a unifying force for the community in Deal. 

 

Mayor Cohen  noted that at the opening of DSN, Steve Carasia, the former town administrator was honored. He worked tirelessly for the benefit of the community, unfortunately passing away this past year. Mayor Cohen said, “He was instrumental in helping us pave the way to many projects that we have implemented, and was a true friend to the community.” 

 

Current Status and Future Plans 

 

Mayor Cohen believes that Deal is on a very healthy path and is headed in the right direction. He notes that, “Deal boasts the lowest crime rate of any town in the area, and will continue to implement the latest security measures.” Due in large part to Deal’s robust monitoring system, Mayor Cohen said, “If any undesirables drive into town, we know within seconds.” 

 

Mayor Cohen’s main goal is to keep much of Deal as-is, keeping it from being overdeveloped. Currently, the town is healthy financially, and Mayor Cohen believes that leaving Deal in the steady, capable hands now at the helm is the way to ensure the best governing of Deal in the future. 

 

 

 

As for future plans, Mayor Cohen would like to see the Deal First Aid situated in their own building. Up until now they have been working out of the fire station. 

 

Mayor Cohen would like to beautify Norwood Avenue in partnership with Ocean Township. One project in progress is aimed at introducing plants that are more aesthetic and less intrusive. Mayor Cohen notes that despite bureaucratic red tape, the project is well on its way, and he takes pride in its progress.  

 

 

May Deal continue to prosper and be a source of blessing to all its residents.