By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Six weeks after the primary election but well before the real start of this years race for Red Bank council, the Republicans have changed their slate.
Leighton Avenue resident John Tyler has replaced Mary Ellen Bannon as one of two party representatives seeking a pair of three-year terms.
Bannon, we hear, stepped down because she’s getting married and the council race was too much additional burden for her to carry. We were unable to locate her for comment.
Tyler and his wife, Krishna, have been in the forefront among West Side residents lobbying for the revocation of Best Liquors’ alcohol distribution license. The store is located two doors down from their home on Leighton Avenue.
A Red Bank native and truck driver, Tyler joins James Coolahan, another lifelong resident who coaches football for the boroughs recreation program and has run once before, in the hunt for the seats that will be open with the end of terms for Democrats RJ Bifani and Sharon Lee. Bifani isn’t seeking re-election; Lee is, and will run alongside Kathleen Horgan.
Also on the GOP ticket is council rookie Grace Cangemi, hoping to secure the one-year balance of the term she inherited from Kaye Ernst, who resigned in January. Cangemi faces off against Democrat Ed Zipprich.
Tyler says he has lots of ideas for improving Red Bank, and, to our surprise, errant liquor stores weren’t mentioned when redbankgreen spoke to him yesterday. Usually outspoken on the Best Liquors controversy, Tyler says he prefers to focus on the future.
The gregarious father of four and girls’ soccer coach for the Monmouth Ocean Soccer Association (MOSA) says his candidacy is all about helping the children of Red Bank.
“That’s my biggest issue, because they’re the next generation,” he says.
He’s also interested in better blending of the town’s residents. At a girls’ soccer practice last week, Tyler said he stepped in to convince some Hispanic boys to alert police, not call their relatives, to intervene with some African-American kids who had assaulted them and taken away their soccer ball.
“I got them to call the police,” which was difficult because the victims didn’t feel they could trust the police to help, he said. He did not know how the situation was resolved, but said his overall goal is to unify the residents so that people dont feel as divided.
“Red Bank should be one community,” he said. “People should come to meetings, get involved and feel like they have a voice.”
Residents of the West Side especially feel as if their voices arent heard, though quality of life issues are important to everyone in the borough, he said.
Cangemi, who was present for our meeting at Tyler’s home, lauded his efforts to protest tax increases last year by rallying the community to attend council meetings.
“He packed the place,” she says. “He and his wife knocked on doors. He’s got a good grasp of community issues, and he’s courageous. He puts teeth to what he believes in.”
Cangemi and Tyler had had informal discussions about the possibility of his running for months, she said. But it was Bannons decision to drop out that sealed the deal, they said.
Cangemi contrasted borough Republicans, who have “darn near nothing” in their campaign coffers for this election, with borough Democrats, who represent “big PAC money” and greatly outspent her party in the last election. “We believe in knocking on doors, they send mailers,” she said.
Democrats have dominated borough politics for nearly two decades, in contrast to the heavy Republican tilt of Monmouth County.
Tyler, though, was a registered independent until yesterday.
“It’s not a party thing for me,” he said. “I just want to help the community.”