Lewis_juanitaJuanita Lewis at home on Shrewsbury Avenue.

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 yesterday, and we’ll wrap up with Cangemi on Thursday.

Today, we spotlight Democrat Juanita Lewis.

Juanita Lewis, now in her second term on the Red Bank Board of Education, also serves on the newly re-started Red Bank Borough Education Foundation. She’s been active in Red Bank Pop Warner. She’s also president of the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance, Inc.

Clearly, education and opportunity are passions in the life of Lewis, an unmarried, childless Red Bank native with an MBA. And they form a centerpiece of her first campaign for council.

“At the end of the Pop Warner season, you could tell it was the end of the season because you’d see kids wandering in the streets with no place to go and nothing to do,” she says. “It really does take an entire community to stand behind the kids. I think the schools are doing some absolutely amazing things… but I really think we can do more as a community to really stand behind the kids.”

Here’s redbankgreen‘s 22-minute interview with Lewis, conducted October 13 in the exercise room of her home on Shrewsbury Avenue:

[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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