ADVICE FOR THE NEW GUY FROM THE EXES

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So, after 18 years riding the bench as a member of the borough council, what kind of mayor will Pasquale Menna be?

At his New Year’s Day swearing-in, Menna said his vision “is to continue the progress” of the McKenna era. He reached out to John Curley, his Republican opponent in the mayoral race—and McKenna’s nemesis—saying, “We’re going to work together.” He rolled out a number of initiatives, from public meetings during budget deliberations to online bill-paying for taxes and water fees.

In sum, he gave every indication that he knows what he wants to do, and how.

Still, it’s nice to have the benefit of others’ experience. So redbankgreen asked Red Bank’s four living ex-mayors for any advice they might have for the new guy.

Read on for their replies, followed by a complete list of Red Bank chief executives from the time the borough was carved out of Shrewsbury 99 years ago.

Judge Benedict R. Nicosia (1963-1966)Nicosia1_1
I think he ought to do something to slow down the development of apartments in Red Bank, because they create a traffic problem. Even when they supply parking, it doesn’t solve the traffic problem. So I urge him to take some steps to do something about this development. It’s just gotten out of hand.

More broadly, Pat’s a very smart guy. I think he’s going to make an excellent mayor. He’s been on the council for something like 18 years, he’s got a good legal mind, he’s got common sense. He’s already made some statements about what he’d like to do, like tighten up code enforcement, which I think has been a little bit neglected.

I think he’s going to be OK. I’m not going to give him any advice. He’s already announced what he’d like to do. I’d just urge a couple of things. Maybe I’m one of the few, and a lot of people on the council don’t think we’re guilty of overdevelopment, but I’ve had complaints from people.

Judge Daniel J. O’Hern (1966; 1969-1978)Ohern1_1
I would advise him to keep the streets clean and pick up the garbage. That’s what people really want. What that translates to is municipal services. That’s the thing that the city government has to do.

There was a famous event in Queens when I was in politics in which (New York City Mayor John V.) Lindsay couldn’t get the snow off the ground. The people went for his throat. So that’s the thing, to make sure the city government works.

Dr. Michael J. Arnone (1982-1990)Arnone1
I’m not sure advice is well-received by incoming mayors. I have no profound advice to give him other than to say be fair, firm and maybe consistent, and underscored with some compassion for the electorate.

Pat Menna I’ve known for quite a while. I can tell you he’s well-schooled in the ways of local government, and he does have the requisite skills to be an excellent chief executive. I think he’ll do very well and I wish him well.

Edward J. McKenna (1990-2006)Mckenna1x_1
I would say to Pat, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” I think Pat is a man of great personal integrity and social conscience. I think he loves Red Bank dearly. I would stress to him to do what he thinks is right.

All too often, elected officials try to test the waters to see what the public wants. And a lot of times, to be honest, the public doesn’t know what it wants, because they’re not informed enough. You could have 50 public meetings on a lot of issues, but there are quite frankly, very few issues that the public really cares about.

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Thanks to Deborah Griffin-Sadel, director of the Red Bank Public Library, for providing the list.

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