CangemigGrace Cangemi at home on Rector Place.

On Nov. 4, Red Bank voters will have four ballot choices for two seats on the borough council, now composed of four Democrats and two Republicans.


Both open seats, by happenstance, are held by Republicans: Grace Cangemi, who is running for re-election, and James Giannell, who is not running; he’s serving out the tail end of the term from which freeholder candidate John Curley resigned in July.

This week, redbankgreen is posting interviews with each of the candidates. Instead of transcripts, we’ve got the complete audio. The interviews are between 22 and 33 minutes in length. [See the editor’s note at bottom of story.]

The interviews are not meant to be literal head-to-head comparisons. Rather, they cover some common issues — including taxes, a community center and healthcare coverage for the mayor and council — while exploring each candidate’s own experiences a bit in order to shed some light on who they are and how they think.

We’re running them in reverse alphabetical order; Democrat Ed Zipprich’s interview ran Monday; Republican John Tyler Jr. was featured Tuesday, and Democrat Juanita Lewis was spotlighted Wednesday.

Today, in our final installment, we spotlight Cangemi.

Mary Grace Cangemi is the only incumbent in this year’s Red Bank council race, but also the only one now wrapping up her third campaign for the governing body in three years.

“Apparently, I love to run,” she says with a laugh.

A mortgage broker by day, Cangemi says without sarcasm that she loves the business of the council — interacting with residents and borough hall employees, trying to solve problems. And the coming year, she believes, will bring a slew of problems in the form of financial challenges that haven’t been experienced in a long time.

“I think we are looking at a year when we’re going to have to make some very hard decisions,” she says. That means, she says, looking public employees in the eye and telling them that even though they may deserve a raise, taxpayers can’t take on any more costs, so they’ll have to wait.

“Otherwise, we have to look our residents in the face and tell them, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to afford to live here,'” she says.

Cangemi says she will also oppose any bonding initiatives except for emergency purposes.

More fundamentally, Cangemi says, she’s running to ensure that the council doesn’t go all-Democrat, under a Democratic mayor. Should she and/or running mate John Tyler win, “There will be a second voice up there. There will be an ability for people to have a more transparent, open government,” Cangemi says. “And I just think that that’s really, really important.”

Here’s redbankgreen‘s full 27-minute conversation, conducted October 11 in the high-ceilinged living room of the four-family house Cangemi owns on Rector Place.

[Editor’s note: When we interviewed the candidates, we did not plan to run the actual recordings; that decision came later. All candidates consented to being recorded, but at the time, they were told that “verbatim transcripts” of the interviews would appear.

One of the candidates has since expressed a concern about not having been aware that the full recording would run. For that, we apologize to all the candidates. But we’ll take our lumps for deciding after the fact to use the recordings. We think they reveal more, both positive and negative, about the candidates, than a transcript ever could, and are thus more valuable to voters.]

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