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RED BANK: GOP SHAKES UP TOWN HALL

mike-whelan-010216-2-500x375-3504766Mike Whelan, 24, at his swearing in as Red Bank councilman. Below, Whelan running mate Mark Taylor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: The original version of this story misreported the name of the borough prosecutor who was replaced Saturday.]

By JOHN T. WARD

mark-taylor-010216-1-220x165-4657725The first Republican majority in a generation showed up at Red Bank borough hall Saturday with a broom.

Ousted were:

• Borough engineer Christine Ballard, of T&M Associates of Middletown, replaced by Bill White of borough-based Maser Consulting.

• Borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, the son of a former mayor, who was replaced by Jean Cipriani, a lawyer with a Toms River firm headed by the chairman of the Ocean County GOP.

wigenton-beck-010216-500x375-4761483Kevin Wigenton, seen here with state Senator Jennifer Beck, kept his post as public defender. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

• Prosecutor James Butler Stephen Schueler, replaced by Matthew Moench.

• Auditor David Kaplan, replaced by Bob Allison.

Borough Administrator/fire marshal/purchasing agent Stanley Sickels retained his jobs. Eugenia Poulos kept hers as chief financial officer.

The housecleaning accompanied the arrival on the dais of Republican councilmembers Mark Taylor, 33, and Mike Whelan, 24.

In brief prepared remarks, Whelan, who was named police commissioner as liaison to the police and fire departments, said he was prepared “to listen and learn.”

“It took faith to elect a 24-year-old, but you will be rewarded with the hardest-working council you have ever seen,” he told a packed council chamber.

The 4-2 GOP majority — the first since 1989, before Whelan was born — was secured after a recount that found he outpolled three-term incumbent Democrat Mike DuPont by just three votes in the low-turnout election. DuPont was not present Saturday, though his running mate, Michael Ballard, was.

None of the four Republicans on council — Taylor, Whelan, Cindy Burnham and Linda Schwabenbauer —  said a word about the reasons for the changes. In the past, however, Burnham has been critical of projects and fees steered to T&M.

Cipriani told redbankgreen her rates would be the same as charged by O’Hern: a flat $35,000 per year for routine work of advising the council and preparing ordinances and resolutions, and $125 per hour for litigation and special projects.

Cipriani works with George Gilmore, considered as one of the state’s power brokers. She also serves as municipal attorney in East Brunswick, Seaside Heights, Bay Head and Jackson Towship. In addition, she serves as labor council in Milltown.

“But I’ll be focussing on Red Bank, because it’s a new town and, frankly, a cool town,” she said. It’s also the first in Monmouth County in which the Gilmore & Monahan firm is serving as municipal attorney, she said.

O’Hern, who was not present, was retained to sit in for Cipriani when she has a conflict of interest.

Burnham was selected as her colleagues as council president, meaning she’ll preside over the council’s semimonthly meetings when Mayor Pasquale Menna is absent. She kept her post as council liaison to the code enforcement department.

Taylor, an attorney, was assigned chairmanship of the parks and recreation committee, replacing Schwabenbauer, who will now head the powerful budget-setting finance committee formerly led by DuPont. Whelan will also head the parking committee.

William Himelman, who  Menna said is the longest-serving municipal court judge in New Jersey history, was reappointed to his job on bench, at an annual salary of $15,000. Kevin Wigenton was kept on as public defender.

 

 

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