By LINDA G. RASTELLI
For the first time in its century of existence, the Red Bank Borough Council has three women as members.
Newcomer Kathy Horgan joined Democratic running mate Sharon Lee and Republican Grace Cangemi at the council table for yesterday’s government reorganization session. That gave the governing body an even 3-3 split between women and men.
“It’s the year of the woman,” said Councilman Mike DuPont, who added that he was happy for the sake of his infant twin daughters that the council was so balanced.
“This is a historic day,”? said Mayor Pasquale Menna. “It’s a good sign. Men need competition.” He said he was especially pleased to see Lee, whom he has known since their childhood on the West Side, be elected to a second term.
Horgan replaced Democrat RJ Bifani, who did not seek re-election after 14 years. Cangemi is completing an unexpired term to which she was appointed last year and elected in November.
Standing with her parents, Cangemi was sworn in by Monmouth County’??s first female sheriff, Kim Guadagno of Monmouth Beach. (Guadagno, we’re told, was so eager to get to work today that she had herself sworn in yesterday, two days ahead of schedule.)
Cangemi will return as chair of the council’s code enforcement committee.
After the meeting, Lee said the real question regarding the new composition of the council is, “What took so long?”
She noted that last year, in her third year on the council, she was the first black woman to serve as council president,? in Red Bank. “I don’t know if there are any (others) in the county, either,” she added.
Being a woman in politics is harder than being a black, Lee told redbankgreen. When she’s worn black and white clothing to functions, Lee said she has been mistaken for hospitality staff rather than as a guest.
“??Men don’??t have the kind of lives that we have,”? she said. But “people don’??t really talk about these things. ??It’??s politically incorrect.”?
But women are better multi-taskers than men, she said, and “give a lot of thought to the long-range implications of their decisions.”
Lee will head the public utilities committee, handing off the reins of the education and technology committee, created last year, to Horgan.
Also present yesterday was state Senator-elect Jennifer Beck, of Red Bank, who launched her own political career with her 1999 election to the borough council and seven years later won a seat as a 12th-district Asssembly representative.