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RED BANK: WITH LEE’S RETURN, WOMEN RULE

sharon lee 090915Sharon Lee, flanked by Mayor Pasquale Menna and former Councilwoman Juanita Lewis, gets ready to swear the oath of office while Councilman Mike DuPont takes a photo. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the first time in Red Bank’s 107-year history, women now outnumber men on the borough council.

Former Councilwoman Sharon Lee returned to the dais Wednesday night, following unanimous approval by the governing body to complete the three-plus months remaining in the term of former Council President Art Murphy, who resigned last month.

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RED BANK: FOUR MAYORS… AND SOME FRIENDS

lee kuo 050115lock menna 050115The first-ever Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball brought together three ex-mayors, the current one and some 250 of their friends at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Among those in attendance: former Councilwoman Sharon Lee and restaurateur Victor Kuo, above, and Pastor John Lock, with Mayor Pasquale Menna, at right.

Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the Red Bank Public Library and the Parker Family Health Center.

redbankgreen grabbed dozens of photos during the cocktail hour overlooking our beautiful Navesink River. Click the “read more” to see who else was there. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: SCHWABENBAUER TO FILL GOP SLOT

linda schwabenbauer 082714Linda Schwabenbauer outside borough hall, where she hopes to win a council seat. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Republicans may not have a mayoral candidate, but they appear to have filled the empty slot on the November ballot for two council seats.

Three months after the shortlived candidacy of Brian Hanlon ended over objections by his employer, political newcomer Linda Schwabenbauer is expected to join local party chair Sean Di Somma in his second consecutive run for council.

Nominally, at least.

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RED BANK: MINTON RESIGNS, HANLON BAILS

burnham di somma 110513Sean Di Somma, above at lower right, on election night last November. Below, Jack Minton, center, with candidate Joe Mizzi and then-Councilwoman Grace Cangemi in 2010. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

minton 110210Once again, a Red Bank Republican council candidate is in the market for a running mate.

This time, though, Sean Di Somma will also have the title of local party chairman as he goes about finding a replacement.

Fellow candidate Brian Hanlon has dropped out of this year’s race against Democratic incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, he told redbankgreen Wednesday, because his employer, Oppenheimer, objected.

And party chair Jack Minton is stepping down, in all likelihood to be succeeded by Di Somma when the the party faithful meet for their annual reorganization meeting this weekend.

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RED BANK: Di SOMMA TRIES AGAIN

di somma 2 102413Sean Di Somma has paired up with electoral politics newcomer Brian Hanlon for his second council try. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Republican Sean Di Somma is going to try again.

A political novice who last year found himself accused of being a fugitive over a traffic ticket, Di Somma tells redbankgreen he’s running for council again this year.

He’s pairing up with Brian Hanlon to try to take out Democratic incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich in November’s election.

The Di Somma/Hanlon ticket, though, won’t have a mayoral candidate to oppose Mayor Pasquale Menna, who tells redbankgreen he’s going for a third four-year term.

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RED BANK: SEEKING EQUALITY, THEN AND NOW

rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

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ELKS HOST TRTC’s ‘EXPLORATION OF JUSTICE’

GreasonSharonGildaMonmouth University professor Walter D. Greason, former Red Bank council member Sharon Lee, and Frank Talk’s Gilda Rogers are among the guest panelists discussing “The Fight for Equality in Red Bank in the 1950s and Today,” during a February 10 event at the Red Bank Elks Lodge.

Press release from Two River Theater Company

“The Fight for Equality in Red Bank in the 1950s — and Today” is the topic of a free panel discussion event on Monday, February 10, presented by Two River Theater Company and hosted at the Red Bank Elks Lodge #233, 40 West Front Street.

The 7 pm panel is the first in a series of Inside Two River humanities programs that will focus on race, the Civil Rights movement, and evolving issues of equality under the umbrella title Exploration of Justice. Panels will take place monthly in connection with Two River Theater’s production of Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress —the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City. The play, directed by Jade King Carroll, will run April 5 through 24.

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RED BANK: LEE BOWS OUT

sharon lee 121813Sharon Lee at her final council meeting Wednesday night, above, and below with her son, Devon Ramsay, on election night. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sharon lee 110513Sharon Lee was three years old when her family moved from its longtime home in Red Bank to Germany. Six years later, when the family was abuzz with talk about “going home,” she was confused, she said. She couldn’t remember any other home.

“I finally understood when I got here,” the borough native said Wednesday night, in her final session as a borough council member.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: CINDY BURNHAM

Election_2013_QA

CBURNHAMOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next weeks election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Cynthia (cindy) Burnham, age 58, grew up in Colts Neck

Age/DOB:

Where did you grow up?

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

I lived in RB from 1979 to 1993.  In 1993, I moved to Harrison Ave, which is half RB & half Fair Haven. While I resided in Fair Haven,  I continued to own investment property in RB and persisted in my civic involvement in RB.  Last year, I moved into my investment property that I have owned for 27yrs on Wallace St. and next month will be moving my daughters in who are now in college.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: SEAN DI SOMMA

Election_2013_QA

SDSOMMAOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next week’s election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited; the links below were provided by Di Somma.

Name: Sean Patrick Di Somma

Age/DOB: 3/3/1982

Where did you grow up? Bergen County, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

Roughly a year and a half. When I moved here, I was appalled at the misinformation and ineptitude of the council. I began speaking out and was recruited to run for this office when there was vacancy.

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: KATHY HORGAN

Election_2013_QA

KHORGANOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next weeks election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Kathleen Horgan

Age: 68

Where did you grow up: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank: 14  years

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RED BANK CANDIDATE: SHARON LEE

Election_2013_QA

SLEEOne of four Q&As with the candidates for two, three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council in next week’s election. Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, both Democrats, are the incumbents; Cindy Burnham and Sean Di Somma, Republicans, are the challengers. Their answers to redbankgreen‘s questions are unedited.

Name: Sharon Lee

Age/DOB: 58

Where did you grow up? Germany, Red Bank

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

Life long! With brief absences, being a military dependent (army), college and a beach hideaway 58 years. Red bank has been my address.

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RED BANK: ZIPPRICH OWNS ‘ASTROTURF’ URL

zipprich 102413Councilman Ed Zipprich, seen at the Red Bank NAACP candidates’ forum at Calvary Baptist Church Thursday night, acknowledged he set up a website that now attacks Republican candidates. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich has admitted having connections to an apparent ‘astroturf‘ website that slams Republican politicians and has boosted his own candidacy for state Assembly.

In response to questions from redbankgreen Friday morning, Zipprich acknowledged that he owns the domain name SayWhatNJ.com and is a former owner of an active website at that address. The site bills itself as a watchdog of “policy makers and the people who influence them.”

Among the site’s activities was a comment posted on redbankgreen Friday morning to bolster a claim by Monmouth County Democrats that GOP council candidate Sean Di Somma was the subject of a three-year-old arrest warrant in Dallas. Di Somma calls the allegation a lie; police in Dallas were not immediately reachable for comment.

Di Somma calls SayWhatNJ’s latest action “a straight-up violation” of state election laws.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL CONTENDERS FACE OFF

council candidates 2 101713Cindy Burnham, left, addresses the audience as Sean Di Somma, Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee listen at the Westside Community Group’s annual candidate’s forum Thursday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2013_wDebatesThe question of whether to keep or sell Red Bank’s municipal water utility was among a handful of issues that split the four candidates for borough council at a debate Thursday night.

Republican newcomer Sean Di Somma said he’d sell it, one of several moves he’d make to “bring the council into the 21st century” and end the “fuzzy math” surrounding local taxes.

Incumbent Democrats Sharon Lee and Kathy Horgan contended the water system wouldn’t find a buyer willing to take on the debt and expense of upgrading a system, parts of which are 100 years old, and that Red Bank was better off keeping it anyway.

Cindy Burnham, the environmental activist who shares the GOP ticket with Di Somma, suggested that “the water utility could be a moneymaker’ for the town, but what really hits homeowners in the wallet is the sewer portion of their bills.

Differences over that issue, taxes and the fate or a piece of borough-owned waterfront property dominated the 17th annual candidates forum organized by the Westside Community Group at River Street Commons Thursday night.

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RED BANK: TRAYVON MARTIN VIGIL SLATED

Councilwoman Sharon Lee, wearing a hoodie in memory of Trayvon Martin, talks with Mayor Pasquale Menna before Wednesday night’s council meeting. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Three Red Bank council members wore hooded garments to Wednesday night’s bimonthly meeting as a local group put out word of a silent vigil next week in memory of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

A poster for the event, called “We Are Trayvon Martin,” encourages attendees to wear hoodies, the type of sweatshirt that Martin was wearing when he was killed in an encounter with a gun-toting resident of Sanford, Florida a month ago.

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BELLHAVEN PARK NEEDS TLC

bellhaven-parkRed Bank officials are seeking funds for the Bellhaven Park nature area on Locust Avenue. Below, a map from the 2006 waterfront plan. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

swimming-riverBellhaven Park, an oft-overlooked waterfront parcel in Red Bank’s inventory of natural areas, could use a little help — any kind of help, says borough Engineer Christine Ballard.

Sequestered away from the public eye at the western end of Locust Avenue, it’s never gotten the kind of use or attention from residents that other parks see. Now, general neglect at the park, designated as a passive natural area, has led it to become a little bit too natural, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

The Swimming River has swallowed up at least half of a floating dock at the park, and the heavy brush of native and invasive species has made some winding paths almost impassable.

“It’s like a jungle down there,” Menna said. “It needs to be accessible and safer. Even our own (police) patrols can’t even go in there because of the overgrowth.”

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DUMPSTER SWIMMING POOLS FOR RED BANK?

dumpster-poolA Macro-Sea Dumpster pool under construction in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Macro-Sea. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

sharon-leeSharon Lee wants to bring Dumpster diving to a whole new level — a cleaner, cooler level.

And she wants to bring it to Red Bank.

The third-term councilwoman, ripping a page from a two-year-old New York Times article on Dumpsters that were converted to public pools in Brooklyn, suggested to her counterparts on the dais that Red Bank, after the general pant-and-gasp brought on by last week’s heatwave, think outside the box by going inside the box.

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COUNCIL STILL DUG IN AGAINST GARDEN SPOT

cg-sickelsCommunity garden proponents talk to borough Administrator Stanley Sickels about their proposal after Wednesday night’s council meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The borough council Wednesday night unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a community garden in Red Bank.

Great, some said.

But when it came down to where the council might allow that garden to sprout, the council maintained a hard position that while it supports a community garden, it doesn’t support one where a group at least 40 strong want it: at a piece of borough property next to the library.

The clash between impassioned members of a community garden group and the council continued Wednesday night, without agreement, and none in sight, on its location.

It was more like a talking-to than a talking-with, as the council offered little feedback to a long line of speakers serving up suggestions, implicating political motives and asking questions that they feel still haven’t been answered.

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COUNCIL DIGS IN AGAINST PROPOSED GARDEN

rbpl-garden-siteAdvocates are pushing the council to allow a community garden on borough-owned property to the right of the library, above. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The green thumbs had their rakes and hoes out in force Wednesday night.

An already lengthy Red Bank council meeting carried on about 45 minutes more as elected officials and proponents of a community garden clashed on the proposed location for the first of what the group hopes will to be up to four community-tended gardens throughout town.

Advocates want the start-up site at borough-owned property adjoining the public library site. But officials say it’s the last available piece of public land on the Navesink River, and don’t want to exclude people by turning it into an area of specific interest.

And so a back-and-forth that started in March continued Wednesday, with still no place to plant a seed decided upon.

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RED BANK COUNCIL CANS PRINGLE FIRM

Pringle_and_hall_2_72307Former borough attorney Ken Pringle, left, and partner Tom Hall at a Red Bank council meeting in July, 2007. Below, new attorney Dan O’Hern at Saturday’s reorganization meeting. (Click to enlarge)

ohern-010111Red Bank has a new lawyer with a familiar name.

Out is the law firm headed by Belmar Mayor Ken Pringle. In is Daniel O’Hern Jr., a Little Silver councilman and son of late Red Bank mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern.

Council members cited economic reasons for the change.

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FAMILIAR FACES AT RED BANK SWEARING-IN

nicosia-lee-lewisFormer Red Bank Mayor (1963-’66) and retired Superior Court Judge Ben Nicosia swears in Sharon Lee, center, to her third three-year term as borough councilwoman as council colleague Juanita Lewis looks on.

Also taking office Saturday were Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan, starting her second term, and Mayor Pasquale Menna, embarking on his second four-year term.

The governing body enters its third year comprised solely of Democrats. (Click to enlarge)

MIZZI: ‘I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE’

gopGOP candidates Rob Lombardi and Joe Mizzi, center, react to poll results at Anna Little’s campaign headquarters on Bridge Avenue Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)

Joe Mizzi was excited Tuesday night, thinking this might be the one.

As treasurer of the local GOP for the past four years, and one of its two candidates for Red Bank council, he said he felt he and running mate Rob Lombardi had a good shot at displacing one or both Democratic incumbents on the ballot, Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee.

It boded well that voter turnout appeared to have been “suprisingly strong,” he told redbankgreen shortly after polls closed, and he’d heard positive feedback from those who’d cast ballots.

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RED BANK: DEMS SWEEP

demsRed Bank Democrats celebrating at campaign headquarters on West Front Street Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)

Democratic incumbents Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee coasted to victory in the Red Bank council race Tuesday, extending the party’s domination of the governing body for at least another year.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, who ran unopposed for a second term, capped the slate’s box-out of GOP challengers Rob Lombardi making his second bid for council in two years, and GOP treasurer Joe Mizzi.

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LEE: DOWNTOWN NEEDS A PARKING GARAGE

rb_leeNAME : Sharon Lee (Democrat, incumbent)

AGE: 55

OCCUPATION:  Asst. Budget Planner

LENGTH OF RESIDENCE IN TOWN:  Life long

General Questions:

1. What do you see as the top three issues in town?

Taxes

Parking

Housing

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ROOM FOR DEBATE, AND A COUPLE OF LAUGHS

debate3The Westside Community Group held its fourteenth annual council candidates’ debate Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It was a tame affair, one that started and ended with smiles and handshakes, with serious debate and a few zingers in between.

The crowd of a couple dozen at Wednesday night’s debate of Red Bank’s council candidates was also a bit subdued, but asked about all the hot topics in town: taxes, pedestrian safety and the local economy.

It opened up with quips from Mayor Pasquale Menna, who thanked the crowd for coming to Sharon Lee’s birthday party — she turned 55 yesterday — and said Republican candidate Joe Mizzi, who sports a shaved pate and spontaneously threw out the opening remarks he prepared a month ago, had a full head of hair before he finished writing his beginning statement.

Then it got serious.

election_2010_header6

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