Two three-year terms on the Red Bank Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 7 election. On the ballot are four candidates: incumbent Republican Linda Schwabenbauer and her running mate, Dana McArthur; and incumbent Democrat Ed Zipprich and his running mate, Michael Ballard.
Here are Ballard’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.
Name: Michael Ballard
Address: River Street, Red Bank
Where did you grow up?
Asbury Park, NJ
Where did you go to high school?
Asbury Park High School
Did you graduate from college?
If so, which school, with what degree?
Monmouth University, MBA & BS Accounting. I am also Certified in Financial Management (CFM)and a Certified Management Accounting (CMA).
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?
8 ½ years
Do you own real estate in town?
What do you do for a living?
I am a Financial Analyst currently working for V12Data in Matawan. This is my 17th year working in the Accounting & Finance industry that includes working 3 years as an Internal Auditor at Prudential Financial.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
Current Planning Board member; Founder – Red Bank Middle School Athletic Foundation; Founder – Two River Little League; Vice-President Red Bank Borough Board of Education; Volunteer Coach Red Bank Recreation; Vice-Chair Red Bank Parks & Recreation Committee.
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?
I serve as a Monmouth County Committee Member for the Democratic Party. I have been a registered Democrat my entire adult life. The Democratic Party most closely aligns with my system of values that include diversity, gender equality, freedom of religion & association and community members caring and supporting one another.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?
Over the past few years I have come to realize that public figures, no matter what their accomplishments or impact on society, are all imperfect beings with faults and weaknesses. I do not have a “role model” but rather strive to find the best in everyone.
Why are you running for Red Bank council?
I have immersed myself in civic duty to Red Bank for the past 8 ½ years, dedicating my time and energy to maintain the sense of community the embodies the spirit of Red Bank. I am running to be a true representative of the residents of Red Bank. I feel there has been a disconnect between borough hall and the residents over the past few years that needs to be restored.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
The future of the Borough-owned White Street Lot is an issue that has drawn a lot of attention the last several months. With strong, passionate arguments for and against development of the property I believe is it imperative that a 21st century parking study be conducted before making any irreversible decisions. Reliance on outdated, decades old studies does not serve anyone’s interests. I want to move forward on this issue by first gathering the facts on what is and is not needed in town before making any permanent decisions or entering into contracts with developers.
What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
With the impending change in Borough Administrators, this is the perfect opportunity for the Borough to reassess how it does business and seek ways to modernize operations to improve efficiency. If elected, I will be using my financial and management expertise to streamline government and seek better shared services agreements on behalf of Red Bank taxpayers.
Does Red Bank need a downtown parking garage?
I strongly believe a 21st century parking study is absolutely necessary to 1) determine the inventory of parking through the borough 2) identify if, and when, parking demand is highest and 3) offer parking solutions that fit the town and doesn’t place the financial burden of a potential solution on residents.
Should the borough-owned White Street parking lot be made available for private development? Why or why not?
Let’s commissions a study, get the facts, then figure out a path forward.
Is the former incinerator site on West Sunset Avenue a good location on which to build a new park?
It is the best option available to afford West Side residents river access, recreational activities and interactions with nature. I think it would be a lost opportunity not to develop the site for Red Bank residents if, AND ONLY IF, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection remediated the site and approved it for a passive use.
Is there a better alternative for providing outdoor recreation for residents, particularly those who live on the West Side?
Not for the overall benefit that an adaptive re-use of the West Sunset Avenue site would provide.
Is Red Bank doing all it can to keep the municipal portion of the tax rate in check? If not, what more might be done?
If elected to Council, I intend to immerse myself in the municipal budget to identify our discretionary budget drivers and seek efficiencies or shared services to ensure that the municipal tax rate is a low as possible. As job titles likely migrate away from the Administrator’s office during the pending transition (I don’t think the Borough will find a new Administrator with all of Stanley Sickels’ multiple licenses/certifications), this would appear to be the time to seek guidance and empower Borough employees to change processes and set up new procedures to increase efficiency in Borough operations that help keep the tax levy in check.
Find the ballot here. And below are the locations of polling places by district.
|1||Hook and Ladder Fire House||7 Mechanic Street|
|2||Red Bank Middle School||101 Harding Road|
|3||United Methodist Church||247 Broad Street|
|4||United Methodist Church||247 Broad Street|
|5||Trinity Episcopal Church||65 West Front Street|
|6||Calvary Baptist Church||23 River Street|
|7||Red Bank Middle School||101 Harding Road|
|8||Red Bank Senior Center||80 Shrewsbury Avenue|
|9||Red Bank Housing Authority||189-195 Drs James Parker Blvd.|