Four candidates campaign for two seats on Red Bank Borough Council

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RED BANK – Four candidates are seeking two three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in the Nov. 5 election. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The candidates are Democrats Kathleen Horgan and Erik Yngstrom, and Republicans Allison Gregory and Jonathan Penney.

Horgan and Yngstrom, who are current members of the Borough Council, did not respond to requests for comment.

At present, Democrats hold the mayor’s office and all six council seats.

Asked why she is running for office, Gregory said, “I am running to bring back balance to the current governing body. I will represent all of Red Bank no matter your party affiliation. I would like to make a difference in my community and follow in the footsteps of Norma Todd (co-founder of Lunch Break), whose home I purchased, and continue to fight for a better Red Bank.”

“I am hardworking, not afraid to speak up and will work to make the borough run more efficiently. I was a candidate last year and I am back out there working hard. I do not know how to quit. When elected, I will not only lead and listen to all residents and businesses, but will follow through with action and give them back their voice.

“My skills as the No. 1 (real estate) agent in Red Bank two years in a row and No. 2 in my company last year shows this passion, strong negotiating skills, the will and drive to not stop until whatever needs to get done gets done. I don’t believe in excuses.

“Red Bank needs transparency and the strength that only a balanced government can bring. A one-party ruled town is not a healthy government and doesn’t serve the best interest of all of Red Bank,” Gregory said.

Asked what she would like to accomplish as a member of the governing body, Gregory said, “The No. 1 recommendation in the Management Enhancement Report (for Red Bank) that came out in May 2018 was to enact a charter study commission. The current governing body hasn’t taken this recommendation seriously and when elected I will fight to enact this study.”

If a charter study commission was created, its members would examine the possibility of changing Red Bank’s current form of government to a different form of government as permitted under state law.

“Taxes are continuing to rise and spending is out of control. We need to hold the line on taxes and provide an open and honest government. I will work to cut the wasteful spending and government inefficiencies. Keeping Red Bank affordable is extremely important,” Gregory said.

“Working to complete projects in a timely fashion and more efficient manner is another goal. The East Side Park project has taken more than six months and is still incomplete, leaving a mess and an eyesore. And have you tried playing tennis at Marine Park? How many years have they had now? Our feeling is their time is up.

“I’d like to enact police enforcing crosswalks and better visibility and maintenance of our current crosswalks. Many are in poorly lit areas and the paint has faded leaving them barely visible. Drivers don’t stop at crosswalks and people have been hit. Most recently a child (was hit). I have spoken on this issue many times at council meetings and the seriousness of this issue and lack of enforcement doesn’t seem to sink in.

“Another issue in town is parking. A common sense solution to an obvious problem is to negotiate with owners of the numerous private parking lots that are closed and vacant after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends and to create incentives for them to open their lots to the public during off-hours.

“Some parts of town are streets packed at night with commercial vehicles. Other towns don’t allow this so they dump them in Red Bank every evening. I would introduce an ordinance that would restrict the times commercial vehicles are allowed to park on residential streets. Many of the streets are narrow and you can’t see to get around the oversized vehicles – it’s dangerous,” Gregory said.

Asked why he is running for office, Penney said, “When I was asked to run, I was honored to be Red Bank’s first Mexican-American council candidate.

“I believe I am uniquely positioned to give a voice to a large portion of the town which is often ignored by the council. I was very disappointed that the council failed to acknowledge Hispanic Heritage Month this year. I am also disappointed the council does not have the ability for Spanish speakers to comment at council meetings.”

“Another reason why I am running is because I believe I can help bridge the political divide which too often holds Red Bank back. While I am running on the Republican ticket, my fiancée is a strong-willed registered Democrat and we have both learned that national politics has no place in Red Bank politics.

“While we have been door-knocking and listening to Red Bank residents’ concerns this fall, we quickly understood that the town’s concerns are diverse and separate from party ideology,” Penney said.

Asked what he would like to accomplish as a member of the governing body, Penney said, “I think there are too many out-of-town interests influencing the ouncil. I would like to wield the power of the council for our residents.

“While Red Bank will always be a regional business hub, we must ensure that their interests never override those of us who live, invest and raise our children in the town. I would also like to create a more open and transparent forum for local business owners, especially small business owners, and residents to interact.

“I would also like to create a Red Bank that is more integrated. Too often Red Bank can feel like multiple towns within one. What I have learned while knocking on doors in different parts of town is that each neighborhood faces different issues. East Side, West Side, Downtown, that’s not the way to build a community. We should be one Red Bank.

“I would also like to make our town budget and expenses more economical and transparent. While many municipalities share services, Red Bank’s council does not play well with others. As a result, we spend far more on services than most towns.

“And while businesses in town get tax breaks, the residents foot this ever-growing bill. If we can reduce this spending, we can use the money better, whether it be by lowering property taxes or allocating more to our schools.

“As a council member, I will prioritize two things that go hand-in-hand: accessibility and transparency. A common complaint which repeatedly comes up when I talk to people is a lack of response from inquiries to the council. People often feel ignored when they have a problem.

“I will ensure the council is as accessible as ever and that I am personally available to assist people with their concerns. Second, I will make sure the council is far more transparent. I will look to webcast and archive council meetings. And I will seek to publish minutes in English and Spanish.

“I will also hope to create meeting summaries so that laws and ordinances are put in plain language for people to better understand the new laws and ordinances. This transparency will allow for more public debate of issues which will ultimately lead to a better Red Bank for all,” Penney said.