Gopal, Houghtaling & Downey Announce COVID-19 Economic Recovery Advisory Council

Gopal, Houghtaling & Downey Announce COVID-19 Economic Recovery Advisory Council
Council members will provide insight, expertise, and on-the-ground knowledge as legislators work toward COVID-19 recovery and local re-opening measures.
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Monmouth County legislators Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced today the formation of a new 11th Legislative District COVID-19 Economic Recovery Advisory Council, which will bring together representatives from a diverse array of industries and communities to advance efforts to re-open New Jersey’s economy, improve public health outcomes, and expand access to resources for municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and local small businesses.

“Local small business owners, community leaders, and nonprofit organizations are already working to help families across our district get through this crisis,” said Senator Gopal (D-Long Branch). “We need their expertise and insight, and they need to have a seat at the table as we work toward a statewide re-opening.”

“As legislators, it’s our job to listen to the people working on the ground to make sure that we’re putting resources in the right places,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Their expertise will help us make the best decisions on policy, legislation, and our plan for recovery.”

“Every community – no matter what town you live in, your ethnicity, your faith, or your orientation – has been hit hard by this pandemic,” said Assemblywoman Downey (D-Freehold). “It’s important to us that this council represent the entirety of our diverse 11th Legislative District, and we promise to listen to all voices as we work toward a comprehensive plan for recovery.”

The Economic Recovery Advisory Council will be co-chaired by Ken DeRoberts, CEO of Government Strategy Group; Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, Regional Director for the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College; Marilou Halvorsen, President of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association; and Jeremy Grunin, President of the Grunin Foundation.

“We are facing the most challenging economy of our lifetime,” said DeRoberts. “Working smartly together we need to marshall as many resources as possible to help our business community. I commend our legislative team for their insightful leadership and look forward to being part of the team.”

“As a longtime Monmouth County resident and Regional NJSBDC director serving Monmouth/ Ocean Counties, the response, recovery, and resiliency of local businesses are personal to me,” said Mejias-Fuertes. “I’m honored and privileged to co-chair this committee whose sole purpose is helping our devastated communities, businesses, and economy recover.”

“As a life-long resident of New Jersey and living in District 11, I am honored to be co-chairing this committee,” said Halvorsen. “Hospitality, retail and other main street businesses have been devastated by the pandemic and closure of the state. I want to assist in providing support, guidance and resources to them so we can get our community back up and running.”

“This crisis demands expertise, action, and collaboration, and I’m confident that, by working together, this board will be able to provide all three,” said Grunin. “I’m honored to be a co-chair of this advisory council, and I look forward to working with its members to help our communities recover from this crisis.”

The District 11 Economic Recovery Advisory Council will work to assist different local industries in re-opening, making recommendations regarding policy, and working with all sectors of the local 11th District economy to make sure that each sector opens in a responsible way. Gopal, Houghtaling, and Downey expect this Council to continue operating until all sectors of the 11th District’s local economy are fully operational.

Residents of New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District who would like to bring items to the attention of the Advisory Council can send an email to

A full list of members for the 11th Legislative District Economic Recovery Advisory Council is as follows:

Ken DeRoberts, CEO, Government Strategy Group
Jeremy Grunin, President, The Grunin Foundation
Marilou Halvorsen, President, New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association
Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, Regional Director, New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College

Small Business Committee
Adanech Asghedom, Adda Gojjo Restaurant
Bianca Bertoli, Lock & Shade
Bob Clark, Fir Farm
Gino Dellomo, Shrewsbury Volkswagen
Mary Ellen Landolfi, World Spiral Media & Independent Contractor
Robin Kampf, Independent Contractor
Nicole Lerario, A Kneaded Vacation
Kevin McHugh, Atlantic Club
Mikaela Milano, 26 West
Teena Patel, LightBridge Academy of Eatontown & Edible Arrangements of Ocean Township
Alpha Reynolds-Lewis, Reynolds Appraisal Group
Ritesh Shah, CEO of Legacy Pharmacy Group
Ayca User, Antoinette Boulangerie French Bakery

Non-Profit Recovery Committee
Laurie Goganzer, Community YMCA
Gwen Love, Executive Director, Lunch Break
Brian McGillivray, New Jersey Reentry Corporation
Beatriz Osterheld, CARC
Arthur Schlossbach, SCORE Small Business Mentoring

Shore Economy Committee
Brian Cherpeka, iStar
Tom DeBartolo, President, Monmouth County Building Trades
Paul Dement, Director of Government Affairs, Monmouth University
Dennis Drazin, Blue Grotto Restaurant at Monmouth Park
Jennifer Eckoff, Executive Director, Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce
Grace Hanlon, Former Executive Director, New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism
Victor Kuo, Temple Restaurant
Russell Lewis, Watermark
Gary Mattola, Madison Marquette
Bob McCaid, iPlay America
Tim McCloone, Mcloone’s Restaurants
Kirk Ruoff, Turning Point Restaurants
Robert Schimko, Business Manager, IBEW 400
Marilyn Schlossbach, Langosta Lounge and White Chapel Project
Sylvia Sylvia, Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce

Governments Subcommittee
Erik Anderson, Mayor, Shrewsbury Borough & Small Business Owner
Donna Campagna, Business Administrator, Allenhurst
Margie Donlon, M.D., Physician & Councilwoman, Ocean Township
Paul Fernicola, Mayor, Loch Arbour; Attorney, Deal Township; Small Business Owner
Sue Fitzpatrick, Committeewoman, Colts Neck Township; Small Business Owner; Past Colts Neck Business Association President
Vito Gadaleta, Business Administrator, Neptune Township
Steve Gallo, Business Administrator, Freehold Borough
George Jackson, Business Administrator, Long Branch
Carl Jennings, Long Branch Housing Authority
Bill Lucia, Business Administrator and Police Chief, Eatontown Borough
Matt Montekio, District Director, Rep. Frank Pallone (CD-6)
Mike Nesci, Councilman, Tinton Falls & Small Business Owner
Mike Nohilly, Mayor, Interlaken
Amy Quinn, Deputy Mayor, Asbury Park
Ziad Shehady, Business Administrator, Red Bank
Representative from Office of Congressman Chris Smith (CD-4)
Amanda Stone, Director of Tourism, Monmouth County Government
Janet Tucci, Mayor, West Long Branch
Pete Valesi, Business Administrator, Freehold Township
Andrew Wardell, Mayor, Neptune City

Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling & Joann Downey represent New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District in the State Senate and Assembly, where they work to make the Garden State more affordable for its hard-working residents. The 11th District includes the Monmouth County municipalities of Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls and West Long Branch.
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