In Tuesday’s election for Red Bank council, incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, both Democrats, face Republicans Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer. Here are Zipprich’s answers to questions sent to all four candidates by redbankgreen.
Name: Edward Zipprich
Where did you grow up? In a small town similar to Red Bank in Staten Island, NY
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 17.5 years
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree? SUNY Brockport, BS; attended Pace University, Lubin School of Business
What do you do for a living? (Title, employer, brief description of your responsibilities.) Retired Law Firm Operations Manager and former audit analyst for the City of New York.
Party affiliation: Democratic
How important is party affiliation to you? I am proud to be a member of Democratic Party. What does it mean to you to be a member of your party? It doesn’t define me, as I was elected to represent everyone in Red Bank equally and fairly.
What should Red Bank residents expect of a council member? A commitment to our community; the ability to be involved and the willingness to give back to our residents, schools, children and seniors. To administer to the committees/commissions on which we serve and participate in the committees to which we are appointed.
What should Red Bank residents expect of their mayor? Leadership and vision for the future of our town while preserving the history contained herein.
How would you describe your approach to budgeting and taxes? This Red Bank administration continues to look at every possible option to keep taxes as flat as possible. The State of NJ reduced Extraordinary Aid to Red Bank by $350,000 since 2010. Additionally, our annual State Aid was reduced over the last 4 years while the Borough’s contractual obligations still had to be met. Our town is also home to approximately 16% non-profit entities. The Borough continues to do more with less. As a member of the Finance Committee, I have helped to deliver balanced budgets within the State mandated 2% cap for 5 consecutive years. I support inter-local service agreements to provide neighboring municipalities with necessary services while adding revenue to our town. I continue to examine the budget and reduce unnecessary expenditures and ensure that the municipality lives within its means. I have been firm on the administration’s bidding contracts for professional services and acquisition of supplies, materials and equipment. I am a taxpayer in our borough and I approach budgeting in a serious fashion. My background in administrative services provides strong oversight for budgeting and responsible growth. I successfully supported establishing a reserve fund for the anticipation of the liabilities of the Borough to pay out.
Are there any borough operations or services that should be reduced or eliminated? I continue to work with my colleagues to look at ways that we can operate the Borough better and more efficiently. We have worked hard over the past several years to reduce redundancies and provide services.
What are the primary criteria you have used or would use in deciding whether to approve a tax increase? First, I always consider the taxpayer and weigh the impact it may have on middle and lower middle class families. Second, I think about where else we may secure supplemental monies to add to the budget – whether they come in the form of federal aid, state aid, county aid or municipal aid or grant funding to offset costs that would enable us to keep the tax base flat.
Red Bank has a large number of charities that don’t pay property taxes, accounting for ownership of an estimated16 percent of the borough’s aggregate valuation, far more than nearby towns. What if anything should be done to address this? This administration has continued to encourage the use of PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes) in order to supplement the absence of tax monies from exempt organizations. Our charities help make up the character of our municipality and therefore add value – especially by the good that they do in giving back to those in need.
Regarding the borough water utility: should it be sold? No.
The water utility generates surpluses that have been used in the past to bolster the general fund, thereby limiting tax increases. Is this a positive or a negative for taxpayers? It is a positive.
What is your view of the borough’s permitting and licensing procedures for new businesses and existing businesses that wish to expand? Is the process business-friendly? There are regulations in place to support development in a controlled and responsible manner in the Downtown Historic Business District. These regulations maintain the appeal and charm of our historic downtown, and it is these elements that attract visitors to our town and make us a destination of choice. There are mechanisms for business people to apply for variances when the need arises and residents of the town to hear them and render decisions. Without this process, Red Bank’s historic downtown would look completely different and might not be historic at all.
Does Red Bank need a downtown parking garage to secure its economic future? Yes, but it has to be handled in an environmentally friendly, 21st century way.
Would you vote for a garage that was not paid for by private investment? Parking has been a contentious issue in the business district of Red Bank going all the way back to the 1970s. I favor a public/private partnership with a 21st century approach to an environmentally friendly solution.
How do you rate the work of Red Bank RiverCenter at attracting businesses and visitors to central business district? Tops!
How do you rate Red Bank’s commitment to conservation and environmental protection? Very good, with room for further enhancements to our open space, parking, bicycling and parks for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
On the question of the bulkhead at the public library, should there be some type of a “natural shoreline” created instead? Is this feasible under the terms of the Eisner deed? This was asked and answered during the course of this year’s public meeting. I was proud to support the effort to build some sort of hybrid bulkhead that would fit under the Eisner deed. It’s important for the public to understand that the shoreline, while appealing in nature, would be in violation of the deed restrictions and our legal counsel was adamantly opposed. It would have been irresponsible to open the borough up to the negative legal and financial ramifications of violating the deed.
A mailing for the Democratic candidates this month said they “created a community garden for all to enjoy.” How is this an accurate or inaccurate statement? It is an accurate statement. The Council voted to approve a community garden on Marion Street. The residents who wanted to participate in the Community Garden leased plots and enjoy gardening there.
How do you rate the conditions and maintenance of public facilities such as our parks and streets? What if anything needs to be changed? Our parks are a constant source of enjoyment for young and old alike. This past spring, we realized the renovation of Riverside Gardens Park, rehabilitation of our basketball courts in both Eastside Park and Count Basie Park along with the tennis courts in Eastside Park. Our road program has started this fall and Leighton Avenue and Highland Avenue are under rehabilitation currently. High Street, Drs. Parker Blvd. and Washington Street are all scheduled to be re-done. We are looking forward to 2015 and first up for consideration is Bridge Avenue including bicycling connections to the Safe Routes to School plan which I had adopted to the Master Plan.
Does Red Bank practice transparent governance? Yes. What if anything might be done to enhance the public’s insight into decision-making? The Borough’s award winning website hosts meeting dates and times. Agendas are posted in draft form as are ordinances and resolutions. Minutes of meetings are available for review and viewing on the site. At times, there is a lag in putting information up on the website, that could be improved to enhance the public’s insight.
Do you agree or disagree that all mayoral/council email correspondence should be conducted in borough email accounts and subject to OPRA requests? Agree.
How would you rate the borough website in terms of effectiveness? Can you identify specific changes that should be implemented? The borough’s website as mentioned earlier has won awards and honorable mention in the past several years. While content update is a challenging task, since the borough’s webmaster also serves in several other capacities, I believe the content should be more current.
What if anything might be done to improve the ability of pedestrians to cross Shrewsbury Avenue at Locust Avenue and other unsignalized intersections? Pedestrian safety is an important issue at every crossing in town and I have been working with DPW staff to coordinate with Monmouth County as well as the State of NJ to improve crossings all around town in a similar fashion to what we recently finished at Dr. Parkers Blvd and Shrewsbury Avenue, Maple Avenue and Peters Place and in front of Riverview Hospital on E. Front Street.
What role, if any, should the borough government have in the effort to save the T. Thomas Fortune House? Since I nominated the T. Thomas Fortune House to the 10 Most Endangered List in 2006, I have consistently lobbied for support from my colleagues on this council. Currently, Councilwoman Lewis and I support saving this national landmark along with Councilwomen Kathy Horgan and Burham.
Where do you stand on the question of whether to build a children’s play area and spray park at Bellhaven Nature Area? This Westside neighborhood supports the park project as do residents throughout the borough. There was a petition circulated before the Red Bank Council with over 300 signatures supporting the conceptualization of a park and nature area. I support our neighbors and believe that it is my responsibility to represent those residents’ voices in Borough Hall. Who is against a recreation area for our children? I believe our children deserve a safe haven in which to play in their neighborhood. They need to be able to see and enjoy the bald eagles and natural environment. Monmouth County has stepped up to partner with the Borough by providing approximately 47% of the cost to construct this park. I’ve thought it through and support it.
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