The Atlantic Highlands Herald invited each of the candidates for office to school boards and governing bodies in Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Middletown and Sea Bright to respond to a series of questions about themselves to better inform our readers about their campaigns. The deadline for submission is Friday, October 22. We will post their responses individually and make them available in our Politics Section.


November 2, 2021 – General Election

Profile Date:  10/22/2021

Candidate Name:  Ellen O’Dwyer-Woods

Age (as of Election Day):  59

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

Position Sought (term):  Atlantic Highlands Borough Councilmember, 3 year term

Party Affiliation or Banner:  Moderate Republican


I have a beautiful blended family:  my partner Rich, three grown children who live locally, two with children of their own and with partners.  I will have a 10th grandchild in a few weeks.  I also count my pets as family, and they are Liddy the horse, and Zachary and Nibbler the dogs.


MBA, Seton Hall University

Bachelor of Science, Biology, Rider University

I have earned a number of other certifications, and am always wanting to learn more.


I am a US Army veteran who served as Captain, and a Market Research and Business Analytics consultant for biopharma, bringing therapies to patients suffering from rare diseases.

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office:

Across municipal teams in Atlantic Highlands, I am currently serving as Captain of the Sustainable Green Team, a regular member of the Environmental Commission, a Shade Tree Commissioner, Fire Department Auxiliary, and Beautification/Public Relations Committee. 

Prior appointments/positions:  Secretary and EMT of an all-volunteer First Aid Squad, founding Board Member, Friends of the Library

Campaign Website or Facebook page:

Email:  [email protected]

Why are you seeking office?

As a local Bayshore girl, and lifelong Monmouth County resident, I’ve experienced the evolution of our small towns over time, and have seen, particularly in the last 20 or so years, how Atlantic Highlands has maintained its small-town character. It has fondly been called “Mayberry” – a wonderful little town with neighbors as friends, volunteers wearing many hats, and home of a police force acting as partners in keeping our families safe.

Most of us realize how blessed we are to live here, and that you don’t get this sense of community everywhere. It is a big part of why families raise generation after generation here, and why new people are drawn to set roots here…and the very reason locals like me return to nest, start a family, or welcome grandchildren

I want to be part of the leadership who can acknowledge our history, and respect that our residents want to preserve its small-town charm and sense of close-knit community, but also to help it adapt appropriately for the challenges ahead.  I want to work with councilmembers and the community to collaborate in a non-partisan way, keeping the focus of our time, efforts, and resources locally on issues impacting Atlantic Highlands.

The two most important issue facing our (board, district, council, committee etc.) are

The Environment and Climate Change, along with Property Taxes are highest on my list.  However, Emergency Management, School Regionalization, Cannabis Businesses, Open Space, Municipal Harbor, and Mother Teresa School Acquisition are all important issues to me, and there’s no reason they cannot be addressed simultaneously. 

They are all a priority, and in varying stages of progress.  I am already involved in helping to address most of these issues as a municipal committee member or volunteer resident.  As a councilmember, I will bring leadership to expedite what I can, negotiate, troubleshoot, and develop solutions in collaboration with stakeholders.  I do this every day for my clients.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.

I feel it is critical to support police and first responders in keeping our people, property, and pets safe.

My overarching platform is leadership, character, and unity for Atlantic Highlands, and I have proven commitment, and dedication to working closely with my colleagues on council, those on the municipal committees, and the volunteer organizations together to build a more cohesive, self-sustaining community… “Mayberry 2.0.”

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

I bring a lot to the table.  I have a strong resume, with an MBA and BS in Biology, and decades of experience in business and healthcare.  I do what I say I will do, and am a hands-on problem-solver.  I have become a local community leader working in municipal committees, volunteer groups, and the American Legion.

As a consultant in market research and business analytics, I blend input from the community with the science and data needed to fully understand the implications of an issue, and am creative in proposing solutions to meet the best interests of Atlantic Highlands.

I have been building cross-functional collaboration between the municipal committees in which I am serving, particularly to support green initiatives that will protect, enhance, and preserve the natural resources in what is the most unique ecosystem on the East Coast, Atlantic Highlands.  I am a Lenape Woods steward, I successfully secured a grant, and designed and worked on the Monarch Butterfly migration project through the new AH Garden Club which I co-founded.

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

People who have worked with me will tell you that I am a very accomplished person, driven to excel in anything I do, but I don’t do it alone when we’ve got a team goal to achieve.  My work style is inclusive and collaborative, and my decision making stems from learning as much as I can about an issue, uncovering all the facts, having discussions with others of different perspectives, and evaluating them with independent thinking.  That’s the scientist in me.  The emotional part of me wants fairness for all, and positive outcomes.

The job of an Atlantic Highlands Councilmember involves serious commitment over and above 2 council meetings per month.  A good idea does not a councilmember make.  The councilmember needs to be present, interactive, and flexible.  My style of working with other councilmembers in facing issues regarding Atlantic Highlands will be collaborative, inclusive, and hands-on.  Solutions will be based on fairness and facts, will be financially feasible, and supported by borough residents.

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Avatar of Allan Dean

Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...