BELMAR, NJ — Hello, my name is Mark Walsifer. I am a Belmar councilman. I was elected in 2016 and started serving my term in January 2017. I am running for mayor of Belmar in the election on November 6.
I have been a resident of Belmar since 1967. I am married for 35 years to my wife, Mary. We have one son, Mark, age 25.
I have had a varied and interesting career.
I learned to be a jack-of-all-trades while growing up in my family's rooming houses. Carpenter, plumber, electrician, painter, janitor and mechanic. You name it, I did it.
As a teenager, I worked at Belmar Playland as a money changer and mechanic. I also worked for a limousine company detailing cars. When I got my driver's license, I became a chauffeur.
During this time, I learned how to drive trucks and tractor trailers. I began driving for various companies, eventually owning my own trucking company for over 16 years with over 100 employees. I did local and countrywide hauling. I even had accounts overseas.
Always willing to give back to my community, I donated a trailer to the Boy Scouts to collect newspapers for recycling. I was involved in recycling long before it was mandatory. Every two months my company would deliver a loaded trailer to the recycling facility and the Boy Scouts would use the proceeds for their trips and jamborees. I have also donated product and equipment to the Belmar Fire Department and Belmar First Aid. It was my donated equipment that delivered the Huisman Gazebo to the head of Silver Lake.
During my 25 years as a police officer, I raised money for the Special Olympics by running every year in their Torch Runs for special needs children so they can have their own Olympics. Families with special needs children face many difficulties and need our support. Donating my time is the least I can do to help in some small way.
I sold my trucking company in 1991 and not knowing which career path to take, having had many offers, decided to become a Belmar police officer. Working locally was appealing after many miles spent on the road.
I joined the Belmar Police force in 1991. My philosophy as a police officer was, my first duty is to help people. Whether there is a medical emergency, a car accident, a lost child, a domestic dispute or a fatality, I am there to help, give guidance and direction.
As a patrolman, I was elected president of the Belmar Policemen's Association. I handled many different duties in the department. I was the traffic accident reconstructionist, community policing officer and Breathalyzer operator.
In 2003, I became a detective. While in the detective bureau, we handled many major investigations. Investigations that took me as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as North Carolina. I worked investigations with the FBI, prosecutor's office, attorney general's office, Secret Service, New Jersey State Police, and the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control.
We did investigations involving drug sales, counterfeit bills, theft, prostitution and many other types of criminal activity that one can only imagine in one small community.
As the traffic accident reconstructionist, I was in charge of, unfortunately, far too many fatal accidents and attended too many autopsies. Accidents happen, but in the end, my priority was to help the victims and the families of these unfortunate incidents.
During my career as a police officer, I became actively involved in New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association, Local 50. I rose through the ranks of PBA Local 50 and was elected president. I then was elected state delegate for the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association. During my involvement with the PBA, I dealt with numerous legislative issues and personnel issues. I was on the negotiation committee for police officer contracts. I spent many hours in Trenton working with legislators.
I was promoted to detective sergeant in 2012. I retired in 2015 as detective sergeant after 25 years of service. I was awarded numerous outstanding law enforcement awards during my career.
I have been a residential and commercial property owner in Belmar since 1974. Owning commercial property, I became a member of the Belmar Business Partnership. When I was elected to the Belmar Council, I introduced and passed an ordinance updating and simplifying the rules for canopies and awnings on commercial buildings. I continue to meet with the members to implement improvements for our business community.
In 1999, I ran for and was elected to the Belmar Board of Education and served until 2016. I was elected vice president in 2009 through 2016. During my 17-year tenure on the board of education, I worked closely with State Sen. Joseph Palaia on legislation to cap the costs incurred by taxpayers for educating students with special needs. Previous to this bill being passed, Belmar taxpayers were required to pay the total costs for educating special needs students, no matter how high the cost. I was also on the negotiation committee for teacher and staff contracts. One of the reasons I ran for a seat on the board was because when my son started pre-K at Belmar Elementary School, the teachers were wearing buttons stating their contract hadn't been settled in two years. To me that was unacceptable. Negotiation is all about communication. I have had years of experience with all types of negotiations. During my tenure on the board, there was never a time that the staff needed to go back to wearing those buttons.
I have always had an interest in government and politics. I was president of the Belmar Republican Club and served as Belmar Republican County Committee chairman from 1994 to 2006. When I retired from the Belmar Police Department, I was able to run for public office. I believe in public service and working to make our community the best it can be.
I am a member of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh and Belmar Fishing Club, and I am a parishioner of St. Rose Church.
Along with my involvement with the Belmar Business Partnership, I was involved with the Belmar Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Commission and was a former member on the Belmar Board of Adjustment.
As a councilman, I serve on the finance, grants, leasing and personnel, community services and water/sewer committees, and the Belmar Harbor Commission.
With all the experience and knowledge I've gained over the years in the private and public sectors, I believe with your vote on November 6 that we can put Belmar back on track.