Doing His Civic Duty
Ocean County College gave Lacey Township’s mayor his start.
“The real-world people who taught my classes doled out their wisdom and had a scope of experience that you may not find even at the finest universities.”
Peter Curatolo ’89 A.S. General Education always planned to attend Ocean County College. Growing up nearby, he was aware of the campus, and at some point, decided that it would be wise to get a taste of college life there rather than commit immediately four years right after high school.
“I didn’t know what to major in, but the professors at OCC took the time for me, they helped and guided me, and had valuable real-world experience they shared with us all,” says Curatolo.
He credits his involvement with the Future Business Leaders of America for helping him become civic minded, which led directly to his 26-year career in government.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without OCC,” he says. “The real-world people who taught my classes — attorneys, law enforcement professionals and those in government — doled out their wisdom and had a scope of experience that you may not find even at the finest universities.”
Curatolo transferred his credits to Seton Hall University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Education. He originally had planned for a career in law enforcement, but instead, he joined the New Jersey State Casino Control Commission, where he was responsible for quality control and compliance for 10 years. This “strong foundation for a career” gave him the opportunity to network with a wide variety of business leaders.
Today, he resides in Lacey Township with his wife of 23 years, Eleanor, who is a nurse practitioner, and their daughter, Eleanor, a high school sophomore at Donovan Catholic. The family lived in Florida for two years while Curatolo worked with the State Department of Business and Professional Regulation, but then returned to Ocean County.
He retained his love for local government and its various operations and took a job with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Finally, he settled into his role as Chief of Administrative Services with the Ocean County Health Department, where he has worked for 13 years. During this time, he also served as a commissioner for the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission, appointed by then-Governor Chris Christie.
Most recently, Curatolo has been appointed to the Ocean County Board of Business Development and Tourism, an area that remains close to his heart.
“Business and capitalism fund all the important initiatives in our communities, including services, prevention, education and law enforcement, so it is vital to any municipality to have a healthy business infrastructure. As government leaders, I believe it is incumbent on us to create that environment.”
Curatolo also served as a contributing editor and photographer for a national performance automobile publication for 14 years.
Eight years ago, Curatolo mounted a run for local office.
“I always wanted to be a municipal decision-maker, so I ran for a position on the Lacey Township Committee, and I was elected,” he says. Now in his third term, he served as mayor in 2017 and was sworn in as mayor again in January 2021.
“I’ve overseen seven industries and three agencies in two states in the past 26 years,” he says. “Ocean County College taught me to work with business for the good of the community — it’s how we all grow and move forward, and I have always dovetailed the enforcement end with robust education and outreach initiatives for the community.
Curatolo’s roots in the community run deep and he is ready to continue to give back — hoping to do so by teaching at the school that gave him his start. “I would love to be an adjunct professor at OCC. It would be a high honor and would bring me full circle,” he says. He made inroads toward that goal by giving guest lectures to an OCC biology class about food safety and in assorted municipal government classes in 2018 and 2019.
As mayor, Curatolo sets the tone on public safety and public health, working closely with the police to educate about the dangers of drugs and underage drinking. “I work with other community leaders to maintain Lacey’s high quality of life, so it stays a great place to work, recreate, live and retire,” he says.
As one of five committeemen who rotate leadership each year, Curatolo helps set policies for the township. As mayor, he intends to focus on continuing to build on the overall quality of life, and maintaining the excellence of law enforcement, and various health and education initiatives in the township.
In his work with the Ocean County Health Department, Curatolo oversees the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which he calls all-encompassing. “We reach out to every demographic throughout the county to focus on the five health indicators and do outreach to veterans, seniors, the disadvantaged and under-represented, with whom we have had great success,” he says. “We focus on policies that will improve their lives and provide increased services for them — an important initiative.”
One of his goals is to work with OCC’s Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) and members of the military throughout Ocean County. “I would like to help be their voice and assist them in accessing the healthcare and other benefits they deserve. The VMRC is a way to create infrastructure we haven’t had before, specifically around services to veterans, and I’m looking forward to working with OCC to achieve that goal,” he says.
“I recommend OCC, without hesitation or reservation, to anyone seeking a fulfilling journey of personal growth, self-betterment and educational advancement,” he adds.