RED BANK: BURNHAM CASTS FINAL ‘NO’ VOTE

cindy-burnham-122816Council President Cindy Burnham at her final meeting as a member of the governing body Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Firebrand activist Cindy Burnham ended her  term on Red Bank’s council Wednesday night vowing to continue the work that made her its most consistent contrarian.

On her way out, she cast the last in a long series of “no” votes in which she was the lone dissenter.

burnham 1 010114Burnham with her three daughters and state Senator Jen Beck, left, at her 2014 swearing-in. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Elected in November, 2013 as a Republican largely on the strength of her successful efforts to preserve Maple Cove as a small-craft launch and nature area and to create a community garden, Burnham broke a five-year stretch in which all six council seats, as well as the mayoralty, were held by Democrats.

But early on in that campaign, she parted ways with running mate Sean Di Somma, who later became local GOP chairman. And as three more Republicans — Linda Schwabenbauer, Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan — followed her onto the council over the next two years, she was rarely in alignment with them on issues.

The Red Bank Republican committee dumped her from the ticket last spring, putting up newcomers Kellie O’Bosky Colwell and Brian Hanlon.

Running as an independent in her first attempt at re-election in November, the Wallace Street resident was trounced by incumbent Democrat Kathy Horgan and her newcomer running mate, Erik Yngstrom, and even trailed Hanlon and O’Bosky Colwell. The result put the two major parties in a 3-3 council tie and ended a short-lived GOP majority, the first since 1990.

In brief remarks Wednesday, Burnham said her three years on the council had been “an interesting experience and an honor.”

“I worked very hard to keep my promise of less borrowing and less spending, and my record does show that many times, I’m the only ‘no’ vote up here,” she said. As she did for many years before being elected, she said, she will continue attending council meetings and working to help residents.

Mayor Pasquale Menna thanked her for her service and the “personal sacrifice” that went along with it. He quipped that he might offer Burnham a $1-a-year honorary position for “reporting code violations.”

“She does it for free,” said Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Democrat Ed Zipprich, seated immediately to Burnham’s right, noted that he often butted heads with her. But he said he “wanted to make a point of thanking her for her enthusiasm and always keeping the best interests of Red Bank at heart.”

In her final act, Burnham cast the lone “no” vote on a salary ordinance.

Horgan and Yngstrom will be sworn in Sunday at the borough government’s annual reorganization meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. in the council chamber at 90 Monmouth Street.

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