Eatontown council has vacancies to fill following resignation of two officials

Members of Eatontown Borough Council may vote to appoint new members of the governing body tonight, Sept. 11.

Two vacancies exist on the council because Councilwoman Jennifer Sherrod resigned from her position on Aug. 21 and Patti May Kelly, who had been serving as the council president for 2019, resigned on Aug. 29.

In their letters of resignation from their elected positions, both women cited what they called an unhealthy atmosphere at council meetings. They said arguments among council members led to their departure from the governing body.

Kelly’s term was set to expire in December and Sherrod’s term was set to expire in December 2020.

Because Sherrod and Kelly are Democrats, the Eatontown Democratic Party has the opportunity to identify candidates to fill the two vacancies on the council.

As of Sept. 3, municipal officials said local Democrats had supplied the council with the names of three people who could replace Sherrod. As of that date, no names had been provided as successors for Kelly.

Upon receiving the names, the council will have 30 days to appoint one of the three candidates offered by the Eatontown Democratic Committee to fill each vacancy.

In her letter of resignation, Sherrod wrote, “It is with regret and great relief that I am resigning from council … When I joined council in January 2018, I experienced a shared sense of camaraderie with all council members and borough employees. We all worked together, regardless of party, toward a common goal, the betterment of Eatontown.

“In 2019, a year of Democratic control, like-minded individuals should have worked together to push projects forward with little to no infighting. Unfortunately, a toxic atmosphere developed with the new council members who brought in a lack of communication, distrust and little to no respect to Eatontown’s history and residents,” Sherrod wrote.

“Unethical behavior, dishonesty and alliances made council seem like a game of ‘Survivor’ rather than elected officials trying to bring forth positive change and growth to the Eatontown community. While I have chosen to leave Eatontown, I still care deeply for the town.

“I only wish the best for the borough leadership, professionals, employees and residents alike. It is my hope that under the sound leadership of our borough administrator, borough management, our mayor and a change in our elected officials in the November election, this ship can be righted quickly,” Sherrod wrote.

In her letter of resignation, Kelly wrote, “It is with deep regret that I resign from my position on the Borough Council. I have had many memorable experiences during my almost three years serving on council and will greatly miss the borough employees, committees I have worked with, and the residents.

“The decision to move, and therefore resign my position, was not made lightly. While politics should never be about everyone agreeing on all things, the disagreements during my first two years on council were respectful and informed.

“That changed this year, however, and going to council meetings meant sitting through endless hours of bickering and condescending remarks,” Kelly wrote.

“The nature of politics at all levels of government has become angry, bitter and fueled by misinformation, and Eatontown is no exception. This has impacted the ability of the current council to see what is best for the entirety of the town now, and in the future.

“I will always be grateful for the privilege and opportunity to serve the citizens of Eatontown and I am hopeful for the future. I wish everyone the best of luck as the town grows and enjoys all that they have the potential to become,” she wrote.

At present, the current members of the council are Democrats Al Baginsky, Tonya Rivera, Gregory Loxton and Jasmine Story.

Story began her term in January after winning a council seat in the 2018 general election.

Rivera and Loxton were appointed to the governing body earlier this year after Democrats Bridget Harris and Lisa Murphy resigned.

Harris resigned on Dec. 26 after serving one year of a three-year term. Murphy resigned on March 13, two months after she joined the council in January.