RED BANK – A new municipal attorney has been hired in Red Bank following a divided vote among members of the Borough Council.
During a meeting on Aug. 18, members of the council passed a resolution authorizing the award of a contract for borough attorney services. The contract was awarded to the law firm Antonelli Kantor, PC, of Livingston and Union Township.
Through the resolution, Daniel Antonelli will be appointed as Red Bank’s borough attorney for the remainder of 2022.
Council members Michael Ballard, Angela Mirandi and Jacqueline Sturdivant voted “yes” on a motion to appoint Antonelli as borough attorney.
Borough Council President Kate Triggiano and Councilwoman Kathy Horgan voted “no” on the motion.
Councilman Ed Zipprich abstained from voting.
Antonelli, who is a partner at the law firm, has served as the municipal attorney for Union Township since 1998 and as the municipal attorney for Linden since 2012, according to the law firm’s website.
According to his LinkedIn account, Antonelli holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Seton Hall University, South Orange, and earned his law degree from Widener University, Chester, Pa.
The appointment of Antonelli as Red Bank’s borough attorney followed the divided council’s firing of Greg Cannon, who previously held the position.
During a meeting in July, council members voted 4-2 to terminate Cannon from the position. Ballard, Mirandi, Sturdivant and Zipprich voted “yes” on a motion to end Cannon’s employment with the borough. Triggiano and Horgan voted “no” on the motion.
During the workshop session of the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Ballard nominated Antonelli to serve as the municipal attorney.
Ballard acknowledged the fact that Antonelli represented Red Bank and the Red Bank Democratic Municipal Committee in a verified complaint Horgan filed against those entities in New Jersey Superior Court in February.
The complaint detailed the appointment of Mirandi to the council this year. Through the complaint, Horgan asserted the appointment was illegal. The complaint was dismissed in July and Mirandi continues to serve on the governing body.
“I think (Antonelli) is a very good attorney,” Ballard said. “He represented us well in (Horgan’s) lawsuit against us. He was reasonable, he was fair and I think he will do the residents justice.”
Horgan said she did not believe Zipprich could vote to appoint Antonelli as Red Bank’s municipal attorney because Antonelli represented Zipprich after Horgan filed her legal action.
At the time Horgan’s complaint was active, Zipprich was the chairman of the Red Bank Democratic Municipal Committee.
Triggiano is now the chairwoman of the Red Bank Democratic Municipal Committee.
Horgan’s comments prompted debate from Zipprich and Ballard and led Triggiano to say the debate over Antonelli’s hiring demonstrated that a different individual should be appointed as Red Bank’s borough attorney.
“A person who is connected to all of this is not the right choice for residents to have full confidence in this decision,” Triggiano said. “(The council) is choosing someone with baggage. Whether or not it’s legal, we have to wonder if it’s ethical, moral (and) the proper decision when they have been attached to things we are talking about.”
Ballard said Antonelli would not be the first borough attorney to have connections with council members prior to being hired to serve in that position.
At Ballard’s request, the council members voted on Antonelli’s appointment at the start of the regular meeting and approved his appointment in the 3-2 vote. Zipprich abstained from the vote.
Following his appointment, Antonelli spoke before the governing body and said, “I want to thank the council for its appointment of me as borough attorney. While I understand the vote was not unanimous, I don’t take it personally. I look forward to working with all members of the council, as well as the mayor (Pasqualle Menna) and the administration.”