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RED BANK: GREGORY Q&A

allison-gregory-102318-500x375-7131561Allison Gregory. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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Red Bank voters will choose two council members for three-year terms in the November 5 election.

On the ballot are incumbent Democrats Kathy Horgan and Erik Yngstrom and Republican challengers Allison Gregory and Jonathan Maciel Penney.

redbankgreen sent all candidates written questions. Here are Gregory’s responses.

Name: Allison Gregory

Age: 38

Address: 109 Bank Street

Where did you grow up?

Fanwood in Union County, NJ

Where did you go to high school?

Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School

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

Yes. Graduated from Kean University in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice.

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

No

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

Just under 4 years

Do you own real estate in town?

Yes, our home at 109 Bank Street with my husband Mark, and our two young daughters.

What do you do for a living?

Real Estate Sales Associate for Resources Real Estate for over 12 years.  I was the #1 Buyers Agent for Red Bank in 2017. I was also the #1 Buyers and Sellers Agent combined in Red Bank for 2018 and on track to do it again in 2019. In 2019, I have been awarded Top Agent of the Month 6 times out of 9 months  in my company competing against over 80 outstanding colleagues. This award is based on an individual agents productivity each month.  I have a successful professional track record and a work ethic to match – I will bring these skills to office when elected.

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

My husband and I are the founders of Todd’s Book Break (a little library) and a Community Garden at our home on Bank Street. We also initiated the first ever Bank Street Block Party which has been held twice now. Block Parties are a great way for neighbors to get to know one another.

I’ve been active with local events like the Red Bank 5k Classic which I have run in, Parks & Recreation events, Wedding Walk, Girls Night Out and most recently a member of the Arc of Monmouth County’s Winter Gala committee.

Donated $500 to the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation which my company matched.

Initiated “Red Bank Taco Talk” a video series on Facebook & YouTube that positively promotes Red Bank’s small businesses and civic groups in town.

Party affiliation: Republican, but vote for the person over the party, which is why I believe nonpartisan local government would be a positive change for Red Bank.

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

Being a Republican to me means responsible but limited government & fiscal responsibility.  I am a free and independent thinker And my focus is on what is best for the people of Red Bank. I believe in standing up for what is right – period.

I agree with my running mate, Jonathan Maciel Penney,  national politics have no place in Red Bank. I’ll never let politics get in the way of my commitment to Red Bank and its residents and businesses.  I am for non-partisan elections in Red Bank.

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

Norma Todd is my Red Bank role model. My husband and I unknowingly purchased her former home on Bank St. in 2016. We discovered the impact she left in Red Bank as the co-founder of Lunch Break and so much more throughout her life.   In her honor, two years ago, we installed a “little library” on the corner of our property that offers children’s books as well as the book titled “Watch out for the Elephants,” a book by Norma’s daughters about the family’s life in the US Foreign Service.

Her heritage of service inspired me to run in 2018, and re-run for office this year to make a difference in our town.  Norma did so much to positively influence Red Bank.

This past summer we opened a community garden in our front yard and most recently hosted our 2nd Bank Street Block Party. I want to make an impact on our Borough and community when elected.

Why are you running for Red Bank council?

I am running to bring back balance to the current governing body.  A one-party ruled town isn’t a healthy government and doesn’t serve in the best interest of all of Red Bank. I will represent all of Red Bank, no matter your party affiliation.

I am hardworking, not afraid to speak up and will work to make the Borough run more efficiently.  I do not know how to quit. When elected I will not only lead and listen to ALL residents and businesses but will follow through with action and give them back their voice.  I have a successful professional track record and a work ethic to match. I will bring these skills to office when elected.

Action and results are what voters want and what many find is currently missing. I will change this; I will bring forth results.  My skills as the # 1 agent in Red Bank 2 years in a row and #2 in my company this year and last year shows this passion, strong negotiating skills and the will and drive to not stop until whatever needs to get done gets done!  I don’t believe in excuses. Red Bank needs transparency and the strength that only a balanced government can bring.

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

Taxes are continuing to rise and spending is out of control. We need to hold the line on taxes and provide an open and honest government. I will work to cut the wasteful spending and government inefficiencies. Making Red Bank affordable is extremely important: Many longtime residents feel and fear they are being pushed out.

We are failing to complete projects in a timely fashion and efficient manner.  The East Side Park project has taken over 8 months and is still incomplete leaving a mess and an eyesore.  Have you tried playing tennis at Marine Park? Marine Park is in the center of downtown and almost half of it has been abandoned since Hurricane Sandy.

Councilman Yngstrom and Councilwoman Horgan serve as the council liaisons to the Parks and Recreation Committee.  The fact that they both view their failures as accomplishments is troubling. Both my opponents were quoted by the Asbury Park Press in early 2017 at the beginning of their council term stating, “Horgan and Yngstrom campaigned on the idea that Red Bank’s Parks were lacking and promised to fix them. They both said they plan to turn that pledge into action as soon as they can”.   It is three years later and there have been no results – until this week when Red Bank’s infamous annual “October Promises” start popping up in an attempt to sway voters.

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

To Lead, Listen and Take Action.

When on the council, I’d like my constituents to be able to address their concerns directly to me at council meetings.  The current council hides behind the Borough Administrator, Mayor and Attorney. Citizens should be able to ask questions directly to their elected officials and get responses. With no voice of opposition, the wall of silence at council meetings was one of the first changes implemented when Democrats took full control in 2019. The public deserves more than silence. You are sworn in to work for the people of your town and make it the best place possible to live, work and raise a family.

Which if any borough committees would you want to serve on as a council member, and why?

I think it’s important to have strong independent thinkers  who are best suited for these committees as opposed to those who are appointed solely because of their political affiliation.  Going forward, I will fight for the best candidates to be appointed. A committee that has been lacking council representation is the Library Board.  My opponent Kathy Horgan’s attendance record the past 3 years was 70% in 2017, 30% in 2018 & 50% in 2019.

I am passionate about Parks and Pedestrian Safety.  I feel these committees are also lacking leadership & direction.

Do you believe the borough council has responded appropriately to the Management Enhancement Report issued in June, 2018? Please explain your answer.

The Management Enhancement Review report revealed that our current government is highly dysfunctional with no clear leadership.   The #1 Recommendation of The Management Enhancement Review that came out in June 2018 was to enact a Charter Study Commission to address Red Bank’s form of government that is not working as well as it could be.

Our opponents have acknowledged this and stated they were determined to do this.  They have not followed through on their promises yet again. I will follow through and fight to enact this study to get Red Bank back on track.  We need people in office who are willing to do the work, not just make promises.

Please tell us what you will do in the next three years to contain or reduce the municipal tax rate.

A few examples of how we will be able to save the taxpayers money and improve our infrastructure are:

-Shared services with Monmouth County and neighboring towns.

-Strategically coordinating projects with roads, safety, sewer/storm system utilities (gas, water, electrical) For example when a road is dug up and re-paved we should be replacing the infrastructure such as water and sewer lines that are old and deteriorating.

-Consolidating Departments within Borough Hall

-Evaluate contracting out water and sanitary sewer operations & maintenance

-More hands on approach – walking the project sites before signing the checks.  Just this month, for example, many newer sidewalks in perfect condition were replaced with new sidewalks.

Is there a shortage or parking downtown, and if so, what if anything should be done to address it?

Of course we have a parking shortage, our entire parking system is broken.  You don’t have to take my word on this one.
There was a parking study conducted by Walker Consultants in 2018 at a cost of $52,350, it showed & stated that Red Banks parking system is broken. We have a deficit of 221 spaces on weekdays and 98 during evening and weekend use. The study cited some easy improvements such as:
The abundance of permit only spots which are reserved on a monthly basis as a major problem and strongly voiced “All municipal parking should be on a first-come, first-served basis.”
One of the suggestions touched on in the report & one we have spoken out on in political videos is, that a number of private parking lots already exist in town that are not being used to capacity or are shut down after 5:00 on weekdays and on weekends & sit empty.  When elected I look forward to negotiating with local businesses to provide incentives for them to allow the Borough to utilize these lots which are scattered throughout town.
The study provided the borough with a road map that gave us the solutions to our broken system.  There’s many more suggestions listed in the report Unfortunately these haven’t been implemented.  I will implement them.

Is Red Bank becoming over-developed? Do we have adequate infrastructure to handle the large-scale development approved and proposed in recent years?

I believe Red Bank is already fully developed, but there are many areas where there is a need for redevelopment and as long as the development follows smart growth principles, I am all for it.  The redevelopment of the long vacant Anderson building into Sickles Market Provisions is a perfect example.  The project not only repurposed an existing structure into a new use, but followed many of the principles of smart growth, such as mixed use and creating a walkable neighborhood.

Development is positive when and only when beneficial to the Borough and all affected. I am not in favor of the VNA project and the impact over 200 units will have on that already congested area.  I am concerned that with this project, along with the others in the pipeline, our infrastructure will be taxed to the brink.  However, I am not an engineer and as a Councilwoman I would look to our municipal professionals to make assessments on our infrastructure and do my due diligence before approving projects that may have deleterious effects to our future.  Red Bank is less than 2 square miles, development must have checks and balances or we risk losing our identity & charm. An opposing voice on Borough Council is crucial to keep these projects in check.

Is local government doing everything it can to make our roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists?

No they aren’t.  I have spoken up at many council meetings over the last 15 months and none of our communities concerns have been addressed.  Our crosswalks are faded or non-existent in some areas of town. Shrewsbury Avenue is very dangerous to cross and there are no crossing guards or police enforcement, especially during school drop off and dismissal.  More than 30 town street lights are out on Shrewsbury Avenue for many years and have still not been replaced. I believe our current council is lacking the ability to listen and to follow through with necessary improvements and repairs.

I am proud that the pressure from our campaign has pushed the current governing body to place on the council agenda; 10/23 (just in time for the election) to install pedestrian crosswalks with blinking lights in locations where pedestrians have been injured and killed 3 and 4 years ago.

Should Red Bank embark on a charter study or take other steps toward a new form of government?

The Borough paid a consulting firm over $32,000 to do a Management Enhancement Review of the Borough operations.  The first overall recommendation was that Red Bank modernize its form of government. The current form drifted away from its original charter and morphed into a “commission” form, giving elected leaders larger roles than originally intended, which made it unclear who was actually in a position of leadership and led to complete and utter dysfunction throughout the Borough government.

To fix this they recommend doing a Charter Study Commission to determine the form of government that would best serve Red Bank.  Our opponents have acknowledged this and stated they were determined to move forward, yet they have not followed through on their promises now that they have full control.   I will fight for this on day one and will follow through to get this enacted so Red Bank can get back on track. We need people in office who are willing to do the work, not just make promises, who will put the people before the politics.

Should Red Bank switch to nonpartisan elections? Please explain your answer.

Yes, I believe this would be in Red Bank’s best interest.  I ran last year for Borough Council and as soon as the Democrats won and took control of Red Bank, the leader of the Democratic Party, Councilman Zipprich said,  “they won’t have to deal with partisan crap,” which really means they will not have a much needed check on their power. Red Bank needs an opposition voice and residents deserve their voice back.

If you’d like to add anything, please do so here:

Vote for Allison Gregory and Jonathan Maciel Penney for Red Bank Borough Council.  Leaders that will stand up and fight for a better Red Bank. We will lead, listen and take action.

All four candidates are expected to participate in the West Side Community Group’s 23nd annual forum, scheduled for Thursday, October 24 at River Street Commons. Details (and a note about parking) are here.

Find the ballot here and polling stations below. Note that the 8th district will vote at borough hall this year due to construction at the senior citizens’ center.

red-bank-voting-district-map-2019-500x363-9229041

 

 

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank business owner happier than to hear "I saw your ad on Red Bank Green!"
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