RED BANK: McARTHUR Q&A

Dana McArthur. (Click to enlarge.)

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 McArthur’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.

Name: Dana McArthur

Age:  34

Address: 103 McLaren Street

Where did you grow up?  

I’ve lived in Red Bank since I was 15. My parents were both in the military so we moved a few times before settling here. Before Red Bank, I lived on Long Island with my grandmother.

Where did you go to high school?

Red Bank Regional

Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?

I have a BA from New School University, and a Masters in Education from Towson University. Right now, I’m working on a Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Monmouth University. I taught for a couple of years after graduating from Towson, but I noticed that the problems children were struggling with weren’t really academic, but more social. Teachers aren’t really trained – or even permitted, often – in helping children through issues that prevent them from being successful in school, and sometimes beyond that. After I earn my Masters in Mental Health Counseling, my plan is to return to schools as a Student Assistance Coordinator. It’s a really impactful role – you can change a child’s life – and I’m really looking forward to it.

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when?

No, but because both my parents were in the military I had a close up view of what it takes to serve, and I developed a deep respect for what those people do and how they do it.

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

19 years.

Do you own real estate in town?

Yes, Mark and I bought a house on McLaren Street in February. This was our first summer there, and since I like to garden it was fun seeing what plants and flowers came up from the previous homeowner!

What do you do for a living? 

I’m a full time student at Monmouth and also an Adjunct Professor at Brookdale Community College. I’m also completing an internship at the VA/Crisis Center at Brookdale. It’s a busy schedule but it’s excellent training, because I get to apply what I’m learning at my internship, and teaching undergraduates at Brookdale keeps me fresh on the basics as well as current with what’s happening in the field.

Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.

Before starting at Monmouth University, I did volunteer work with Outreach Ministries, working with at-risk youth – it was sort of like a mentoring program. These were teenage kids who had problems at home or social issues of some type, and we did things for the community like food drives and park clean-ups.

Party affiliation: Republican

How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?

At the local level, I don’t think party is important – it’s more about doing what’s right for Red Bank, not what’s political. I’ve always been registered as a Republican but I tend to be less of a conservative on social issues, and more of a conservative on fiscal issues.

Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?

My grandmother – I called her Meema – she was really groundbreaking. She used to tell me stories about applying for medical schools, and the things they would say to her, because it was so rare to have women in the medical field back then. When she was interviewing for medical school admission, the board would sometimes close the meeting by saying things like “you’ll make a great wife” – can you imagine someone saying that today in an interview? She went to Cornell and got her undergraduate degree in 1948, and then graduated from the Womens Medical College of PA in 1952 and became an anesthesiologist. She and my grandfather met when doing their residency together (he was a neurosurgeon). Later, she served on the school board, around the time my mother was teenager, and she had a reputation for remaining calm in extremely volatile situations. Meema actually was the person who convinced me to run for Red Bank Council – she wasn’t afraid of anything, and I want to live up to her example.

Why are you running for Red Bank council?

Mark and I are starting a family, and it’s important to me that Red Bank is affordable for familes and also remains a place where you want to raise your children. When I was going to RBR, most of my friends lived on the west side, and it makes me really sad that almost all of them moved away because they couldn’t afford to stay here. I think it will be good to have someone on Council who has small children and actually knows what it’s like to raise a family here.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?

Taxes, of course – taxes are what make Red Bank too expensive for people to live here. My running mate, Linda Schwabenbauer, has come up with a plan to reduce property taxes for Red Bank residents, and I’m on board! Essentially, we’ll be increasing the values of commercial property in Red Bank so that it attracts a larger percentage of taxes – ALL taxes, including municipal, schools, county, etc. – which means that residents are paying a smaller percentage of taxes. It makes perfect sense, and the business community loves it because it depends on them being more successful for it to work.

What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?

I want to look into how the water utility compares to surrounding towns – I don’t understand why my friends in Little Silver, Fair Haven, and Middletown don’t seem to have the water pressure issues that my neighbors and I experience. Why can’t we fix that?  I also think our water/sewer is too expensive here.

Does Red Bank need a downtown parking garage?

I was apprehensive about it at first, because I really love the Red Bank landscape and I didn’t want it to look like Asbury or Long Branch. Once I saw the proposals, though, it shifted my perspective. And when I spoke to the business owners and came to understand the need to make it easy for people to come here, it just makes sense. The key will be that it can’t be too big or stick out from the downtown architecture.

Should the borough-owned White Street parking lot be made available for private development? Why or why not?

I think the only way we should allow private development on White Street is if it’s part of a public-private partnership to solve the parking issue, and we have to have a lot of input even then. It’s a key location and too valuable to Red Bank to take lightly. We need to be careful with what we put there.

Is the former incinerator site on West Sunset Avenue a good location on which to build a new park?

We need more parks on the west side and it’s a great location right on the river. There isn’t much land on the river that isn’t developed anymore. I’ve heard that people are worried because the incinerator used to be there, so it would be really important to make sure it’s cleaned up and safe before we make it a park.

Is there a better alternative for providing outdoor recreation for residents, particularly those who live on the West Side?

I don’t think so… there really isn’t another spot on the west side that’s big enough to put a park, other than Bellhaven and that’s really a nature preserve. I mentioned before that the waterfront in the West Sunset Avenue location would add a lot to the park, and I actually have a lot of friends who take their canoes and kayaks over there. It’s a big space and could include lot of different things for different groups – a soccer field for the little kids and maybe a basketball court to give the older kids something to do, too.

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?

Yes, I think Linda has done a great job with the Finance Committee over the past 3 years, and I know from talking with her that municipal taxes were held flat mostly by cutting expenses. I don’t know how much more might be out there to cut, and so that’s why I think the plan to shift a higher proportion of the total tax bill to the commercial properties makes sense – it’s a sustainable solution.

Find the ballot here. And below are the locations of polling places by district.

1Hook and Ladder Fire House7 Mechanic Street
2Red Bank Middle School101 Harding Road
3United Methodist Church247 Broad Street
4United Methodist Church247 Broad Street
5Trinity Episcopal Church65 West Front Street
6Calvary Baptist Church23 River Street
7Red Bank Middle School101 Harding Road
8Red Bank Senior Center80 Shrewsbury Avenue
9Red Bank Housing Authority189-195 Drs James Parker Blvd.