RED BANK: VISCOMI ADDS WILD CARD TO RACE

Viscomi serves on the board of ed, where she leads the finance committee, and is on a number of borough committees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The 2018 race for two Red Bank council seats looks like it will have a wild card.

Sue Viscomi, a board of education member and former Republican stalwart who has expressed increasing antipathy in recent years to the local arm of the party, has started gathering signatures for a run as an independent in the November election, she told redbankgreen on Monday.

Her entry would appear to add to the challenge for the two presumptive Republican candidates, already facing the prospect of an anti-Trump backlash in a majority Democrat town, and could eat into support for the two Democrats in the race, both newcomers to elective politics.

Running under the rubric of “People Over Party,” Viscomi said she has “seen the negative ramifications” of partisanship as well as the benefits of Democrats and Republicans working together.

“A park bench is not a Democratic bench or a Republican bench,” she told redbankgreen. “It is time for some independent leadership, and I represent of best of both parties.”

Viscomi has until June to gather 80 signatures and file a petition with the Monmouth County Clerk, she said.

In her announcement, Viscomi said that with six days left to file election petitions for the June primary, the local GOP, under Chairman Michael Clancy, has not yet announced who will run for the two open council seats or for mayor.

“I believe this is just the trend of disorganized leadership and the lackluster job the GOP is displaying,“ she said in her announcement.

Clancy could not be reached for an immediate response. Earlier Monday, he told redbankgreen that he would be releasing the names of the party candidates by Friday.

A year ago, Viscomi publicly blasted Clancy for ignoring her interest in running for council and instead choosing a political unknown. She also accused Clancy of anti-immigrant comments in intra-party correspondence that she called “disgusting.” Clancy said his remarks had been meant as a joke.

Incumbent first term council members Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan are expected to anchor the Republican ticket, with the mayoral slot open. Taylor and Whelan said in December that they will press for a change to make Red Bank elections nonpartisan.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, a Democrat, is seeking his fourth four-year term, and has not had a GOP opponent on the ballot since winning office in 2006. He’ll head a ticket that will include council candidates Kate Triggiano and Hazim Yassin, neither of whom has previously sought elective office.

The Democrats, under Chairman Ed Zipprich, a councilman, chose their slate in February.

Viscomi, of Cedar Street, has lived in Red Bank for more than 15 years. She’s a regular attendee of council meetings, arriving early to videorecord proceedings from the front row. She posts the videos on a YouTube channel and on a Facebook page called RB Spectator.

In January, Menna appointed Viscomi to the borough library board of trustees. She also serves on the newly formed Animal Welfare Committee.

An accountant, Viscomi makes her living as chief financial officer for National Parts Supply in North Brunswick.

“There should be more than one voice on the Council because there are important issues ahead in Red Bank’s future,” she said her announcement. “My record is not just rhetoric and as I campaign, you will see I am a person of action.”

Viscomi briefly ran for council in 2013 but dropped out before election day.