Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

ONCE AGAIN, RUMSON DEMS HAVE NO SHOT

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Along Rumson Road in the borough of Rumson, at least five campaign signs for Democratic hopefuls for state office can be seen.

Rum_07_2

And the county Democratic Party is gearing up to run two candidates for Rumson council — in the 2008 elections.

But thus far in the history of this upper-crust borough, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, no Democrat has ever been elected mayor. And if any have made it to the council, historian George Moss is unaware of them.

“I don’t think there were any,” says Moss, who served on the governing body from 1944 to 1984.

No history will be made in that regard this year. Even with President Bush’s approval levels approaching that of linoleum, a GOP sweep, as usual, looks like a pretty sure thing in Rumson. Mayor John Ekdahl and his two running mates for the council, Joan DeVoe and Joseph Hemphill, are unopposed.

Ekdahl became mayor in 2003; he was unopposed then, too. His campaign budget this time around? “I’m not spending any money this year,” he says.

So, with apologies to Maureen Dowd, are Democrats necessary in Rumson?

Asked to address whether the council needs a Democratic voice, Ekdahl says it’s a non-issue. “At the pure local level, [government is] really non-partisan. It’s which streets to pave. Everybody wants to keep tax rates down.”

The Democratic candidates for council in 2008, long-time residents Michael Steinhorn and Fred Blumberg, say they’re running because opposing viewpoints are desperately needed. But they’re not in this year’s race because they need more time to meet voters, they said.

Steinhorn, a Realtor, says he’s been politically unaffiliated for 25 years and only recently registered as a Democrat because he says a one-party town is unhealthy for political debate.

“Candidates are not elected, they are selected. There’s a perception you should be a Republican here,” he says. “That perception may not be true, but that perception has to end.”

Blumberg, who ran for council once before [Correction: he was asked to run, but declined, in 1976], says the political process in Rumson is not open. “They think alike,” he says of the borough council’s members.

“Reasonable people tend to disagree, but they don’t seem to disagree,” Steinhorn puts in, noting that most council votes are “lopsided. How can people agree that much?”

Steinhorn points to the new $5.5 million borough hall that’s about to be built as an issue that needs more debate. “I don’t think everyone’s on board,” he says. “If expenses get out of control, people are going to go crazy.”

Nonsense, says Ekdahl. The decision was the result of a two-year process with much investigation as to whether the current building should be redone. “Mr. Steinhorn spoke at several of those meetings,” he says.

The mayor believes there is no stigma attached to being a Democrat. “I’d be really surprised to hear of anything like that. On the zoning or planning boards, we tend to put Republicans on because they’re the people we know,” he says. “But being of a different party would not disqualify a person.”

Most residents, he notes, are unaffiliated. The actual breakdown from the office of the county Superintendent for Elections supports this: There are 1,464 registered Republicans, 529 Democrats and 2,908 unaffiliated voters in town, as of October 24.

Yet some Rumsonites seem to feel that it’s not only gauche, but dangerous, to come out of the closet, politically speaking. One resident was deterred from putting an anti-George W. Bush bumper sticker on her car by her spouse, who she says worries the “neighbors will burn down the house” if they find out they’re not Republicans. Unsurprisingly, she asked redbankgreen not to identify her.

Are Democrats unwelcome in bucolic Rumson? A self-proclaimed “Christie Todd Whitman Republican” says she’s startled to see Democratic campaign signs lately around town. “You never saw signs like that before. I think there are more Democrats than ever,” the born-and-bred Rumsonite told us. She also declined to be identified.

“People used to say that if you weren’t a registered Republican, you couldn’t get a job as dogcatcher,” she says. She’s disillusioned with “religious-right wackos” who have “hijacked the political process,” but not disillusioned enough to vote for the “essentially a socialist” Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Email this story

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
DOUBLE DYLAN IN RED BANK
Trucks for a production company filming what one worker said was a Bob Dylan biography have lined Monmouth Street the past two days with cre ...
AFTER THE RAIN
A pear tree branch brought down by a brief overnight storm left a lovely tableau on the sidewalk in front of Red Bank's Riverside Gardens Pa ...
CONE OF UNCERTAINTY
Asked by a redbankgreen reporter why these cones were on top of cars, the owner of the car in the foreground responded: “That’s ...
RAIL RIDER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of Cooper's Bridge and the Navesink River from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank Tuesday morning.
PUT ME IN COACH!
Red Bank T-Ball kicked off at East Side park on Saturday morning. The brisk weather proved to be no deterrent to the young players, ranging ...
IT’S A SIGN!
Once proudly declaring its all-but-certain arrival in Spring 2019, the project previously known as Azalea Gardens springs to life again with ...
SPRINGTIME MEMORIES OF CARL
The Easter Bunny getup and St. Patrick’s Day hat that belonged to longtime Red Bank crossing guard and neighborhood smile-creator Carl ...
RED TRUCKS AT RED ROCK
A small dishwasher fire at Red Rock Tap and Grill was put out quickly by firefighters overnight, causing minimal damage. Red Bank Fire Depar ...
CREATIVE COVER UP
The windows of Pearl Street Consignment on Monmouth Street were smashed when a driver crashed their car through them injuring an employee la ...
THEY’RE BACK!
Ospreys returned to the skies over Red Bank this week for the first time since they migrated to warmer climes in late fall. With temperature ...
SPRING IS SPRUNG
RED BANK: Spring 2024 arrives on the Greater Red Bank Green with the vernal equinox at 11:06 p.m. Tuesday.
RED BANK’S FINEST – AND NEWEST
Red Bank Police Officer Eliot Ramos was sworn in as the force’s newest patrolman Thursday, and if you’re doing a double take thinkin ...
EASTER EGG MAYHEM AT THE PARK
An errant whistle spurred an unexpectedly early start to the Spring Egg Hunt on Sunday, which had been scheduled to begin at eggsactly 11am ...
PRESEASON DOCKWORK
RED BANK: With winter winding down, marina gets ready for boating season with some dockwork on our beautiful Navesink River.
CORNED BEEF AND DISCO FRIES?
It’s Friday, and smart Lent-observing Leprechauns know the pot of gold at the end of Red Bank’s rainbow is actually the deliciou ...
SURFBOARD DITCHED
It’s a violation of etiquette in surfing to ditch your board.  (it could hit another surfer and hurt them). But someone appears to ha ...
ELSIE, TAKE ME WITH YOU!
Soaked by pouring rain with the temperature hovering in the low 40’s, this sign in the window of Elsie’s Subs on Monmouth Street ...
WALK THIS WAY
PARTYLINE: Before-and-afters of a sidewalk cleanup on West Street.
SOGGY NOTION
RED BANK: Breezeway sculpture captured the mood downtown as heavy rains fell Saturday morning.
HOME DELIVERY
RED BANK: After a subdivision, an instant house rises on a new Catherine Street lot.