By JOHN T. WARD
She may have broken the Democrats’ lock on Red Bank government, but that wasn’t enough for the party she rode in with.
Heading into her first re-election campaign, Councilwoman Cindy Burnham was dropped from the 2016 Republican ticket Sunday.
Instead, the local GOP committee chose fresh loyalists: Brian Hanlon, a financial advisor who was briefly a council candidate in 2014 before dropping out over objections by his then-employer; and Kellie O’Bosky Colwell, an artist who grew up in town and returned two years ago after an extended stint in New York.
GOP Chairman Sean DiSomma said Burnham failed to win a re-election endorsement at a closed-door committee meeting held in an insurance office on Maple Avenue Sunday afternoon. In attendance, he said, were “13 or 14 voters,” including representatives of the borough’s nine voting districts, as well as local elected GOP officials. DiSomma and Hanlon, as president of the local Republican club, were also permitted to vote, DiSomma said. Each of the candidates made a brief presentation and took questions, he said.
DiSomma, who has feuded with Burnham since they shared the ticket but campaigned separately in 2013, said the “overwhelming sentiment” among committee members was that Burnham “doesn’t really have a lot of accomplishments” as a council member. “She hasn’t really done a lot,” he said.
He said Burnham “voted to raise taxes” in her first budget vote, in 2014. Other factors he cited: “The fact that she’s not forward-thinking. There’s no real eye toward maintaining Red Bank’s competitiveness.” A recent report on a drop in home sale prices over the past five years “really shook a lot of people,” he said, “so the question is, where’s that coming from?”
“This is a big-picture election, and people just didn’t feel she had the big picture,” he said.
DiSomma said Burnham told the gathering, “I’ll see you guys in November as in independent,” before she “stormed out” of the meeting.
Burnham told redbankgreen via text that she was “disappointed” by the committee vote. Asked whether she planned to vie for a spot on November’s ballot via a primary challenge in June, she said she doesn’t know what her plans are yet.
“I’m mulling over all the possibilities,” including whether to seek re-election, she confirmed.
Burnham has until 4 p.m. Monday to alert the Monmouth County clerk if she intends to mount a primary challenge.
The winners of the primary are expected to face incumbent Democrat Kathy Horgan and newcomer Erik Yngstrom, a member of the zoning board, in the November election.
Burnham, a waterfront activist and landlord who works as a substitute teacher at Red Bank Regional High, won her seat in the 2013 election, becoming the first Republican on the council in five years. She was followed a year later by Linda Schwabenbauer, who replaced Hanlon on the ticket. DiSomma was a candidate in both races.