By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s government turned the calendar page to 2019 with a friction-free reorganization meeting Tuesday that kicked off the fourth term of Mayor Pasquale Menna and gave Democrats unfettered control of borough hall.
Here are some highlights:
Hazim Yassin, his hand on the Koran, recites the oath of office as a councilman, Below, Yassin, at right with Councilwoman Kate Triggiano and newly named Council President Erik Yngstrom. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
• The council appointed Westfield-based CPA firm Suplee Clooney & Company to run the finance department on a 60-day interim basis.
As reported by redbankgreen, the council voted Monday to oust Eugenia Poulos as chief financial officer, just hours before she was to qualify for tenure in the post. Councilman Michael Ballard, who chairs the finance committee that recommended the change, said it was part of the council’s “overall review ” of borough operations.
• Menna, a Democrat who defeated Republican Pearl Lee in November, was sworn in by federal District Judge Susan Davis Wigenton, a borough resident he said was a longtime friend.
An immigrant from Italy by way of Montreal, Menna was joined by his parents, Evelina and Ennio Menna, of Little Silver, and an uncle, Lucio Cordisco, a former mayor of Maisonette, a tiny village in New Brunswick, Canada.
Wigenton’s husband, Kevin Wigenton, was reappointed as borough public defender, a position he has long held.
• In what Menna said was a first for Red Bank, a new officeholder swore his oath of duty on the Koran. Hazim Yassin,
A founder and former president of the American Muslim Action Network, Yassin told the audience that “one thing that I take from my faith that I apply is the concept that leadership is more about responsibility.”
Yassin and Kate Triggiano, a human rights and environmental activist, defeated Republicans Alison Gregory and Michael Clancy in November, giving the Democrats all six seats on the council.
• Triggiano was also sworn in and assigned to serve as police and fire commissioner, a ceremonial title given to the council member who serves as liaison to the emergency services departments.
Menna said Triggiano is the second woman in the town’s history to hold the position, the first being Sharon Lee.
• Councilman Erik Yngstrom, entering the last year of his first term, was voted council president, meaning he’ll preside over meetings when Menna is absent. Councilman Ed Zipprich held the title in 2018.
• Wayne Hartman, who served as fire chief in 1995, returned to the one-year post at the head of the all-volunteer department. He succeeds Stu Jensen.
Scott Calabrese and Bobby Holiday were sworn in as second and third in command, respectively.
• In his remarks, Menna said the site of the former Visiting Nurse Association headquarters on Riverside Avenue, now the subject of redevelopment, could yield a ratable worth $90 million. Menna did not say where the figure came from.
As a nonprofit, the VNA paid no property taxes on the 2.7-acre site, located at the intersection of Bodman Place.