Councilman Mike DuPont snaps a photo as Linda Schwabenbauer, joined by her father, Abe Schwabenbauer, awaits her swearing-in as a council member. Pasquale Menna, below, began his third four-year term as mayor. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
In keeping with recent tradition, however, partisanship was set aside as the annual reorganization of the borough government was marked by pledges of togetherness.
Invoking the way in which college hockey players came to shed their school identities to form the United States Olympic team in 1980, Schwabenbauer said that every member of the six-member council “has a party affiliation or cause, but each of us plays for Red Bank.”
Schwabenbauer, 49, a political newcomer who emerged as the top vote-getter in a four-way race for two council seats in November, became only the second non-Democrat to serve on the governing body since the departure of Grace Cangemi and interim Councilman Jim Giannell at the end of 2008. She replaces Juanita Lewis on the governing body.
With the consent of the council, Mayor Pasquale Menna appointed Schwabenbauer, an accountant, to serve on the finance committee. She was also named head of the parks and rec committee, which Lewis had headed.
Sworn in for his third three-year council term, Democrat Ed Zipprich pledged to continue working on behalf of historic preservation, environmental and youth issues.
Presiding over it all was Menna, who began his third four-year term as mayor, having run unopposed in November.
He reflected on his mayoral activities in 2014, which he said included 305 meetings, community forums and the like – and did not include 28 meetings with staff and department heads, 22 council meetings and the 54 weddings he officiated. The demands on the job “have increased dramatically” since he was a freshman councilman in 1989 and the late Dan O’Hern Sr. was mayor, though “the salary is still $7,200,” he said.
The past year was one of financial progress, with the operating budget shrunk by $180,000 and the capital budget reduced by “several million” without any adverse impact, Menna said. He also praised residential and business development on the West Side; said his administration had “fixed” the library budget; and touted progress on traffic safety issues on Shrewsbury Avenue and Riverside Avenue.
As he has at past reorganizations, Menna alluded to the possibility of a new parking facility at the borough-owned White Street lot, an issue that has proved controversial in the past. Afterward, he told redbankgreen that a report commissioned by the council last year was in hand and would be revealed within 10 days. He declined to discuss its contents, except to say that it lays out several “mixed-use” options for the borough.
The only notable change in council assignments was one requested by Burnham, who noted at a council meeting last month that a borough ordinance requires that the liaison to the committee that oversees code enforcement should also serve as council liaison to the environmental commission. Menna said the failure to put her on the commission a year ago was an oversight. The change was approved without any pushback.
In taking that position, Burnham displaces Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, though Horgan had no complaints. “I certainly enjoyed being part of the commission, but I see us working together,” she told redbankgreen. “Cindy is very dedicated to the environment, as am I.”
Burnham cast the lone “no” vote on the reappointment of Stanley Sickels as borough administrator.
Joe Lauterwasser was sworn in as 2015 chief of the volunteer fire department, along with his first and second deputies, Chris Soden and Pete DeFazio, respectively.