COUNCIL DEBATE SCHEDULED; ALSO, PIE

Councilcandidates08Incumbent Republican Grace Cangemi, left, and running mate John Tyler Jr., right square off against Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis, center, at next week’s candidates’ forum. (Click to enlarge)

Big night for the politically tuned-in next Wednesday — particularly those with a hankering for baked sweets.

Most prominently, there’s the third and final presidential debate between senators John McCain and Barack Obama on television at 9p.

That’ll be preceded, locally, by the 12th annual candidates’ night in Red Bank, where four candidates for two council seats will square off starting at 7p.

But while some voters may be wondering how they can squeeze both into their schedules, just as tempting to many, no doubt, will be the “National Presidential Community Dessert Fellowship & Debate Watch Night” at the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

That’s a cramped way of saying the church will be showing the presidential debate on a large-screen television, but first will throw down with desserts brought in by attendees. That event is open to the public, non-partisan, and begins at 7:30p.

As for the council race, we’ve got a situation in which two seats, both held by Republicans, are at stake. Democrats control the governing body 4 to 2, and of course the mayor, Pasquale Menna, is a Democrat.

Republican Grace Cangemi is the sole incumbent on this year’s ballot, having first been appointed to fill out a year of an unexpired term and then elected last November to complete the balance of the term to which Kaye Ernst was elected in 2005.

Cangemi’s running mate is John Tyler Jr., who ran for council last year and came up short.

On the Democratic ticket are Ed Zipprich, who lost to Cangemi last year by about 59 votes, and Juanita Lewis, a board of ed member making her first try for council

The debate, organized as it has been in the past by the West Side Community Group, follows a town hall format. Candidates will be invited to make opening and closing remarks. In between, moderator Amy Goldsmith will select residents on the fly to ask questions of all four officeseekers.

The event is held in the community room of the River Street Commons, on Catherine Street between Bridge and Shrewsbury Avenues. It begins at 7p.

Goldsmith says she hopes to “keep tight with he time” and have the event wrap up by 8:30p.

Attendees who drive are asked to park only in visitors’ spaces or on the street; all other spaces in the center’s parking lot are designated for residents of the senior citizens’ housing complex. Violators will be ticketed and towed, says Goldsmith.

Pilgrim Baptist is just a block north of the debate venue on Shrewsbury Avenue, and has ample parking. Attendees are encouraged to bring a dessert. For more info, call 732.747.2343.

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redbankgreen plans to run Q&As with each of the candidates early next week.