Councilwoman Kathy Horgan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
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 Horgan’s responses.
Name: Kathleen Horgan
Address: 146 Branch Avenue
Where did you grow up? Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York
Where did you go to high school? St. Dominic’s High School in Oyster Bay
Did you graduate from college? If so, which school, with what degree?
No, I do not have a degree. However, I studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, France, for 4 years (this was a non-degree program) and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts for three years.
Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? No
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 20 years
Do you own real estate in town? Yes
What do you do for a living?
I am the Liaison to the Board of Trustees and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Development at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, New York City, where I have worked for the past 18 years.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
Having served the borough of Red Bank for 12 years as a sitting Councilwoman, my involvement in community affairs is an important part of my job and actually pre-dated my election to the Council. I commit many hours to numerous meetings with residents, attendance at business openings, church services, events at our schools as well as fundraisers supporting our non-profits such as Lunch Break, the YMCA, the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation, etc.
Party affiliation: Democrat
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?
There is an important philosophical difference between the Democratic and Republican parties and the divide has become even wider as we have all witnessed in recent years. The Democratic Party’s genuine concern about “the people” speaks to my heart. To me, it’s a party that is inclusive and nurturing. It embraces the middle class, women, minorities, workers, unions, teachers, senior citizens. I am drawn to its humanistic and rational approach to solving the problems of the day and its quest for justice, truth, and fairness.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why?
Eleanor Roosevelt is my heroine. Born to wealth and privilege, she, nevertheless, devoted herself to public service throughout her life. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Why are you running for Red Bank council?
When I moved to Red Bank 20 years ago, I knew this would be my forever home. I have a vested interest in this community which has been good to me over the years. I want to give back. I want to make Red Bank the best that it can be for those who live, own a business or visit our town. In addition, I want to continue to build on what I have worked hard to accomplish these past twelve years and navigate certain projects to completion.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
Property taxes, redevelopment, pedestrian safety
The most significant issue facing Red Bank is our residents’ property taxes, and maintaining the affordability of Red Bank for seniors like me, as well as ensuring that our next generation can continue to afford to live here. As a Councilwoman, I have taken specific steps to help address this issue. Keeping my 2016 campaign promise, I voted to commission a Management Enhancement Analysis of the Borough’s operations during my last term, which has already resulted in operational savings. I voted to hire a new CFO and a new Administrator to change how the Borough does business. Finally, I also voted to hire a grant consultant, who has brought over $1M to Red Bank to invest in local infrastructure projects and programs we could not afford on our own.
I want to continue the changes that are taking place in the Borough’s redevelopment process. This past year, I voted to create the Red Bank Redevelopment Agency, which appointed residents to make these decisions. The Agency is comprised of long-time residents who know our town best. These individuals will vet all redevelopment projects before they enter the formal land use process at the Borough. Making sure our residents are in charge of Red Bank’s development is crucial in my view, and this is one of my top priorities going forward through the new Redevelopment Agency.
Pedestrian safety is a quality of life issue and paramount to maintaining the walkability in Red Bank, one of the main reasons so many people choose to live in our town. To this end, the Borough has secured $1M in grants to improve pedestrian safety along Shrewsbury Avenue and in the vicinity of our train station. Our Police and Public Utility departments are continually working on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety measures in our residential and business districts through traffic calming improvements, repainting crosswalks, installing Do Not Enter and STOP signs to funnel traffic correctly, and creating four-way stops at dangerous intersections.
What if any specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
Please see above.
Which if any borough committees would you want to serve on as a council member, and why?
I have served on every borough committee during my 12 years in office. I would like to continue chairing the Education and Technology Committee because I believe that every child has the right to an education, which will allow them to excel in whatever path they choose to follow as an adult. I want to ensure that our award-winning primary and middle schools and our regional high school succeed. There are plans to revamp our technology needs in the Borough and I want to see that through to completion. Since revitalizing our parks and finding a parking solution are two important issues in the Borough, I would like to continue serving on the Parks & Recreation and Parking committees.
Do you believe the borough council has responded appropriately to the Management Enhancement Report issued in June, 2018? Please explain your answer.
Yes. Approximately 65% of the Report’s recommendations have been completed. As mentioned earlier, we have hired a new dynamic Business Administrator to change how the borough does business and to implement many of the recommendations made in the Management Enhancement Report.
Please tell us what you will do in the next three years to contain or reduce the municipal tax rate.
The Management Enhancement Report is the guide to lowering our property taxes through increasing our “visitor” revenues and more efficiently providing Borough services. Namely, the Report calls for the reduction of our workforce through retirement attrition and utilizing technology to streamline Borough processes. It also contemplates the reorganization of Borough fixed assets, like municipal properties and the water utility, in order to leverage them to reduce taxes. I have pledged and continue to pledge to follow the roadmap laid out for the Borough by the Management Enhancement Report.
Is there a shortage of parking downtown, and if so, what if anything should be done to address it?
As I promised to do when running for Council in 2016, we commissioned an in-depth study of the Borough’s parking inventory with input from all stakeholders: businesses, residents, and visitors. Now, with an actual data-based handle on the problem, the first priority of that study recommended the hiring of a Parking Director and revamping the parking utility. We have undertaken that step, and our new Parking Director has started with the “low-hanging fruit” of our parking problem: renovating and better using our existing space. As we move forward, I believe that we can address the 221 weekday and 98 weekend parking space shortages through incremental changes.
Is Red Bank becoming over-developed? Do we have adequate infrastructure to handle the large-scale development approved and proposed in recent years?
I do not think that Red Bank is being over-developed, but the threat exists in a rising real estate market. That’s why I am a proponent of the Red Bank Redevelopment Agency that places the responsibility for vetting development projects in the hands of citizens, with their review and recommendations coming to elected officials only after all factors of the proposed development have been vetted. Any new development will always require the redeveloper to provide adequate infrastructure both on-site and off-site, as required by the law and as may be required by the resident-based Redevelopment Agency.
Is local government doing everything it can to make our roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists?
This question was answered above under “the most pressing issues facing the town” question. To reiterate: Pedestrian safety is a quality of life issue and paramount to maintaining the walkability in Red Bank, one of the main reasons so many people choose to live in our town. To this end, the Borough has secured $1M in grants to improve pedestrian safety along Shrewsbury Avenue and in the vicinity of our train station. Our Police and Public Utility departments are continually working on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety measures in our residential and business districts through traffic calming improvements, repainting crosswalks, installing Do Not Enter and STOP signs to funnel traffic correctly, and creating four-way stops at dangerous intersections.
Should Red Bank embark on a charter study or take other steps toward a new form of government?
With all of the reforms enacted by our Council in the last three years, now is not the time to wholly change the Borough government. I think doing so would be detrimental to the ongoing changes. Charter study commissions in other towns, like Asbury Park, cost tens of thousands of dollars that is better spent on the many issues I’ve highlighted in the above responses.
Should Red Bank switch to non-partisan elections? Please explain your answer.
No. (1) The cost to the taxpayers to change Red Bank’s elections would be prohibitive; (2) Non-partisan elections tend to decrease voter turnout, as witnessed in Long Branch where only 22% of voters turned out in May 2018; (3) Non-partisan elections do not take the money out of politics, as seen by the over $300,000 spent by Long Branch “non-partisan” candidates in their 2018 election; (4) Non-partisan elections do not provide more transparency in government, they actually mask the platforms of the allegedly unaffiliated candidates; and (5) Non-partisan elections provide a massive advantage to the incumbent elected officials insofar as any challengers lack traditional party structures to mount their campaigns.
If you’d like to anything, please do so here:
VOTE HORGAN & YNGSTROM FOR RED BANK BOROUGH COUNCIL 2019! For more information, please visit RedBankDems.com.
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.