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AND THE LEADER, BY A HAIR…

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How close is next week’s mayoral election in Red Bank looking?

Well, there are no polls that we know of. So redbankgreen devised its own measure.

We call it the Electometer, a count of yard signs touting the candidates: Council President Pasquale Menna, a Democrat; his opponent, Republican Councilman John Curley; and their respective slates.

It’s far from scientific, we know. You can discount or dismiss the results for numerous reasons. But it’s all we’ve got.

So, how’s the race shaping up as we enter the final week? Well, it’s close. Extremely close. But according to the Electometer, if voters from Mechanic Street turn out and pull levers the way they’ve declared themselves in their front yards, the slate that’ll be popping champagne corks next Tuesday night is the one headed by…

… the bald bachelor.

No, not that one. The other one.

Curley.

Our sampling of residential neighborhoods, aided by some helpful redbankgreen readers, on both the east and west sides of town counted 42 households for Curley’s team and 40 for Menna’s.

Keep in mind that we counted properties, not signs. So Menna’s own house on River Road scored one for his column, even though he’s got at least four signs posted on his front and side yards.

If the signage is a sign of what’s to come, it’ll be a close finish. Block by block, street by street, where there were signs, there was also balance. For the most part, the two slates seem equally popular.

For example, along River Road/East Front Street, from the Fair Haven border to Washington Street, we counted 24 signs: 11 for Menna, 11 for Curley, and one yard (across the street from Menna’s place) that featured a sign for each. Dead even.

Same with Madison Avenue: a 3-3 tie. Same on Leighton, from Catherine Street north to Locust Avenue: a 2-2 deadlock.

In a few places, one candidate might have a one- or two-sign advantage that was nullified by the signage on a nearby block. One exception: Alston Court, where reader Boris Kofman reports Menna leading, 5-1. Another was Spring Street, which was favoring Curley, 7-4.

The only true anomaly, though, was Mechanic Street. We walked the length of Mechanic from Broad Street to Harrison Avenue late Sunday afternoon and found a Curley rout underway, with seven signs for the Republicans and none for the Menna team.

If seven signs doesn’t sound all that impressive for a street with several dozen homes, we agree. But in relative terms, seven signs is a lot this season.

Consider that we counted just two along the entire length of Pinckney Road one day last week. On Sunday, we found a single sign for each of the candidates along the length of West Westside Avenue. It was pretty much the same story everywhere.

This paucity of signs may be a story in itself. It seems that homeowners just aren’t declaring themselves this year. What are we to make of this? That voters are undecided? Apathetic? Perhaps just keeping it to themselves?

Yesterday’s New York Times had an interesting piece on how the red-state, blue state stalemate across the nation has led some people to simply stop talking politics, because doing so changes no one’s mind and leads to enmity between friends and relatives.

The story quotes P. M. Forni, the director of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University:

“In previous elections, there was more openness,” he said. But now, he said, “The intensity of the feelings of displeasure with one or the other end of the political spectrum is such that many people realize there is real danger in disclosure and discussion…”

“An election season can turn into an equivalent of the office party: you will say and do things that you regret the day after,” Dr. Forni said. “And there are those who, being aware of that, simply have decided not to speak about these issues, or to do that with a very, very small circle of trusted friends, very often of the same political persuasion, in order to enforce their values, to validate their choices, because they have given up the hope that anything good will come through political confrontation.”

What do you think? Does the number of signs out this year reflect the kind of conflict-avoidance that the professor is talking about?

Oh, and which follicly challenged candidate is going to win this one?

Comments, please.

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