BELMAR, NJ — A St. Rose Grammar School student was among 10 winners of Assemblyman David Rible’s annual essay contest, opened to all fourth- and fifth-graders from the 30th Legislative District.

Fifth-grader Ryan Merkler of Belmar in his winning entry answered the question: “If you were governor, how would you improve New Jersey? His essay, in 300 words or less, centered around these major points:

  • Lowering taxes “by making sure elected officials do not get paid too much or too little.”
  • Merging municipal police departments into one department for each of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
  • Requiring testing for teachers to ensure they are meeting quality education standards. Those who don’t meet the standards would be required to attend a two-week training program,
  • Grow small jobs by helping grow small businesses.
  • Reduce the crime rate by making sure there are police officers patrolling the streets.  “I have noticed there are more officers around and I think that is good," Merkler writes: “The one reason is (Belmar Police Chief Andrew) Huisman. We need more people like him.”

For their efforts, Merkler and the nine other contest winners — representing Wall, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Howell and Point Pleasant — were recently taken on a tour of the New Jersey Statehouse and Assembly chamber by Rible, who also treated them to lunch.

Sign Up for E-News

 “I’ve hosted this essay contest for many years now and every year the essays get better,” he said. “I’m continually impressed with how much our students are learning about our state and government, both at school and home.”

The winning entries were selected from hundreds of submissions from throughout the legislative district, which includes Belmar and Lake Como.


TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TAPintoBelmar.