RED BANK: GOP TAPS NEWCOMERS FOR RACE

taylor whelan 033015 1Mark Taylor, left, and Mike Whelan, center, with GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma outside borough hall Monday night. Democrats Mike DuPont and Art Murphy, below, on election night 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

dupont murphy 110612Red Bank Republicans, hoping to leverage gains in the last two municipal elections, have set their sights on control of the borough council for the first time in 25 years.

And as in the last election, when all-but-unknown Linda Schwabenbauer emerged as the top vote-getter in a field of four candidates, they’re putting their bets on political newcomers.

The local GOP filed papers with the Monmouth County Clerk Monday naming 32-year-old Mark Taylor, of Wallace Street, and 24-year-old Mike Whelan, of Maple Avenue, as its candidates for two council seats up for grabs. No other Republicans filed for the June primary for that office.

Also filing were well-established Democratic incumbents Art Murphy, seeking his fifth three-year term on the council, and Mike DuPont, seeking his fourth.

Taylor and Whelan, though longtime Red Bank presences, are political newcomers whose names have never before appeared here in redbankgreen.

A lawyer with the Tinton Falls firm of Reardon Anderson, Taylor grew up in town and graduated from Red Bank Regional, where his father, Les, served on the board of ed for some 20 years, he said. He also graduated from the University of Scranton and earned his law degree from Widener University School of Law.

Mayor Pasquale Menna appointed Taylor to the borough Parks & Rec committee 15 months ago after he began refereeing rec soccer a couple of years ago, Taylor told redbankgreen Monday night.

Whelan moved to Red Bank from Sea Girt when he was 16 and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft and Manhattan College, where he studied political science. He sells insurance at firm in Metuchen and lives on Maple Avenue.

In a statement, local GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma said Taylor and Whelan are committed to lowering property taxes, creating an open and transparent government and making Red Bank a better place to live. The party is planning to introduce the two candidates more fully to the community in May, he said.
With successive wins in 2013 and 2014 by Cindy Burnham and Schwabenbauer, the Republicans have two of six council seats. Di Somma says a 4-2 Republican majority is within reach because Murphy and DuPont are vulnerable on their records and will not have the benefit of the coattails effect he believes they received from the re-election of President Obama in 2012.
Murphy, a homebuilder, has served on the council since late 2003, when he was appointed to fill an unexpired term, and was elected to a full term that year. He serves as council president, chairing meetings of the governing body when the mayor is absent.

DuPont, a lawyer in the firm headed by four-term mayor Ed McKenna, was elected to the council in November, 2006 on a ticket with Murphy and Menna, who was elected to succeed McKenna after 18 years as a councilman. DuPont serves as chair of the council’s finance committee, overseeing the budget and bonding matters.

The coming race will be the fourth pairing of Murphy and DuPont, who also ran together and won in 2009 and 2012.

Di Somma, who ran for council in 2013 and 2014, said he’s happier now heading up the party.