RED BANK COUNCIL Q&A: HANLON

brian-hanlon-101416Brian Hanlon, Republican. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Election_2016_PlainOne year after Republicans narrowly displaced Democrats as the controlling party in Red Bank government, ending a 25-year reign, voters return to the polls on November 8 with five candidates to choose from for two council seats.

All five candidates have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Brian Hanlon had to say in response.

brian hanlon 050616Brian Hanlon at the Mayor’s Ball in May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

hanlon-colwell-sign-101416

Name:  Brian M. Hanlon

Age:  47

Address:  20 Arthur Place, Red Bank

Do you own real estate in town?  I have owned and paid property taxes in Red Bank since 2007.

Where did you grow up?  East Hanover, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?  9+ Years

Where did you go to high school?  Delbarton School, Morristown, NJ

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?  West Virginia University, College of Business & Economics, BSBA, Major in Marketing

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?  No. My Father is a Veteran.

What do you do for a living? (Job title, employer, brief description of your responsibilities):  I serve as the Executive Vice President of Capitol Securities, where I helped launch and anchor our newest branch location at 137 Broad Street and helped recruit and hire the current staff including a number of Red Bank residents. My 25-year career in the financial services industry includes 8 years trading bonds institutionally in New York and over 17 years in private client service.

Party affiliation:  Republican

How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?     I have always viewed principle above politics and have voted for the person not the party. As such, I was a registered Independent, until I re-registered as a Republican to support my neighbor running for Red Bank Council, Sue Viscomi.

Who do you plan to vote for in the presidential election and why?  I am voting Brian Hanlon and Kellie O’Bosky-Calwell for Red Bank Council.

Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?  John F. Kennedy is my role model in public life. As the first and only Irish Catholic to be elected to the President of the United States, President Kennedy cut taxes, fought for Civil Rights, prevented Nuclear Armageddon, established the Peace Corps and put a man on the moon.

Why are you running for Red Bank council?  My neighbors and I are tired of paying increased property taxes and higher water and sewer bills, and I want a local government that is transparent and accountable to its residents.

What should Red Bank residents expect of a council member?  Red Bank residents deserve smart management of the town services and respect his/her fellow citizens from their council members; I will provide both as Councilman.

What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?  When elected, I will work to bridge the gap of communication between Red Bank residents, commercial property owners and the business community and help create a better understanding that we all must live, work and play together.  I will do this because Red Bank businesses make-up approximately 40% of the tax receivables in our borough – helping broaden our tax base, lowering the tax burden on residents, and aiding our public schools.  I will also work to lower the tax burdens of residents, which in turn will also make homebuyers more interest in Red Bank properties and raise property values.  Lastly, while Red Bank remains attractive on a number of levels including mass transit, the river, a progressing downtown and the proximity to the ocean – we cannot continue with the status quo of backroom deals.  I will stop the longtime politicians’ games and advance smarter development in Red Bank.

How do you describe your approach to fiscal issues such as budgeting, taxes and debt? My philosophy on fiscal issues is simple: place needs before wants.  Just like our hard-working families place needs over wants, our government should do the same.

Are there any borough operations or services you think should be reduced or eliminated?  In general terms, we need to shrink the size and cost of government where we can and without negating the core government services we provide.  As Councilman, I will call for a comprehensive audit of borough government to ensure our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent in the most effective manner possible and to consolidate services where we are able to.

What are the primary criteria you have used or would use in deciding whether to vote in favor of a tax increase?  In all of the fiscal decisions I make on Council, my primary concern will be how it affects our seniors, working families and future generations.

Red Bank has a large number of charities that don’t pay property taxes, far more than nearby towns. What if anything should be done to address this?  Council should live within its means and stop making backroom deals.

Should the borough maintain ownership of its water utility?  No.  As the Navesink River report shows and everyone who owns a shower in town knows, our water utility is being extremely stretched.  Unless the borough of Red Bank is willing to bond the millions necessary to fix our water infrastructure,  which we are not, the borough must move to sell the water utility to an organization that can take advantage of economies of scale.

Is Red Bank business-friendly?  No.  As a businessman, I can attest to the fact that the longtime Red Bank politicians and government insiders have a reputation of being openly hostile to the business community.  Business that try to invest in Red Bank dread going before both the Planning & Zoning boards for inconsistent and arbitrary decisions.  A few examples are developers attempting to transform blight have been turned down with little justification aside from the person preference of a politically motivated zoning board and sitting council member laughing about closing a business.   This uncertainty and hostility has driven many businesses to neighboring areas such as the Long Branch and the Grove in Shrewsbury.  A prime example of this is Prowns, a business located in Red Bank for 90 years, leaving and moving to Middletown.

Do you agree or disagree that Red Bank is becoming over-developed? If you agree, what should be done in response?  I am sure my neighbors will agree with me, when I say I am sick and tired of hearing from local politicians and candidates that they are for “smart development.”  “Smart development” is a meaningless phrase that politicians use to trick their listeners in believing whatever they want them to believe without taking a definitive stand.  Having said that, there is significant blight sitting on extremely valuable land in town that could be developed and save each Red Bank taxpayer nearly $350/year.  Instead of smartly being in favor of this development, our opponent Erik Yngstrom has repeatedly voted against developing these properties.

Does Red Bank need a downtown parking garage?  Over the years, different political candidate have offered a variety of solutions to this problem.  We have been told that, if we just put a few small blue signs up, our parking issues would be resolved.  The reality of the situation is we are still running a deficit of 1800 parking spaces.  Restaurant turnover in Red Bank is at an all time high and we have failed to attract viable specialty realty.  We can either continue the way we are going – on the fast track back to “Dead Bank,” or we can work with outside developers to use and leverage some potential areas like White Street and offer a 99-year mixed use lease in exchange for them building a parking garage, which would not cost taxpayers a dime.

Are there conditions you would like to see met before a parking garage is approved?

I would insist the developer we chose be fully vetted, be insured and bonded to ensure the project would be fully complete and that there must be no bonding and no expense to the taxpayer.  If and only if those conditions are not met should we consider as a last resort putting it to a referendum.

Do you support the recent borough council decision to designate the vacant lot at 55 West Front Street as “area in need of redevelopment” after a development plan for the site was rejected by the zoning board?  Many of our opponents have either been on or are currently on the zoning board and council.  While they have had the opportunity to make a master plan for the borough, they have failed to do so and have put us at the mercy of the zoning board to do whatever it chooses.  Turning down a project like 55 West Front Street not only robs the borough of potential revenue, it also robs current residents and working families of the ability to lessen their tax burden.

How do you rate the borough government’s commitment to environmental protection and conservation?  The longtime Red Bank politicians and government insiders have failed us on environmental protection.  Look no further than the Navesink River pollution.  I encourage all residents to go to CleanTheNavesink.com to learn all of the facts about the Navesink River failures.

Are Red Bank’s parks and other public facilities well-maintained? What if anything needs to be changed?  Some of our parks are maintained, and some are not.  What needs to be changed are the longtime politicians and government insiders, who think spending a half of million dollars of taxpayer money to “shade” our parks is a good idea and a responsible management of our hard-earned tax dollars.

Is Red Bank government transparent? What if anything might be done to enhance the public’s insight into decision-making?  Red Bank government is not transparent. The longtime politicians and government insiders are the only ones “in the know,” and it is time to change this.  One of the first things I will do when elected is donate video equipment to live stream council meetings.

Do you agree or disagree that all mayoral/council email correspondence should be conducted in borough email accounts and subject to OPRA requests?  Yes, I believe all mayoral/council email correspondence should be conducted through borough email accounts and subject to OPRA requests, and I will introduce a resolution to make that happen when elected.

How would you rate the new borough website in terms of effectiveness?  While our opponent Kathy Horgan previously ran on how fantastic the borough’s website was, she was lying.  The website needed to be revamped and, fortunately, the update was a significant improvement.

What specific initiatives, if any, should be implemented to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in town?  When elected, I will work on a pedestrian safety plan with the borough’s chief of police and engineer.  I will also work to ensure that the problem areas, where many pedestrian accidents are currently under-reported, are release to the public.

Should the clay tennis courts be kept in Marine Park?  Yes, and I believe the Borough should revitalize them and ensure every resident in Red Bank has access to them.

What if anything should be done to provide outdoor play areas for children on the West Side?  I believe there needs to be at least one new park on the West Side; and, when elected, I will work with businesses to help aid in the developing, funding and maintenance costs by offering naming rights to all our parks.

If there’s anything you’d like to add, please do so here:

My wife and I moved to Red Bank in 2007, started a family here, had our daughters born at Riverview Medical and baptized at St. James Church, and development lifelong friendships here. Unfortunately, since 2007, we have also seen our taxes go up 90%.  This is unacceptable.  Having said that, we love our home and our borough, and we know Red Bank can be an even better place with common sense in borough government. My wife and I both work and have to balance our schedules with our children like most Red Bankers do. We acknowledge public service is a sacrifice, not a luxury, and know that it would be extremely beneficial for all Red Bank working families to have a voice truly representing them.