By JOHN T. WARD
Again taking aim at their own party’s chairman, four Red Bank council members and Mayor Pasquale Menna have called for a charter study to review the borough’s form of government – and possibly, change the electoral process.
Slamming what they termed “total dysfunction created” by party chairman and fellow council member Ed Zipprich, the council majority – Kate Triggiano, Hazim Yassin, Kathy Horgan and Erik Yngstrom – “have joined with Mayor Pasquale Menna in calling for a change to Red Bank’s form of government,” they said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“I am a Democrat. I will continue to be a Democrat. I will continue to run as a Democrat,” said Triggiano. “But I’ve come to see how our town’s outdated system drags our beloved community down. It’s time for a change. It’s time for the council to adopt an ordinance for a charter study commission and potential change to our borough government.”
Triggiano and Yassin, seeking second terms, face a June primary challenge by Zipprich-backed newcomers Bruce Maida and Jacqueline Sturdivant.
Increasingly over the past year, the self-styled “majority Democrats” have been at odds with Zipprich and Councilman Michael Ballard over issues including the fate of the borough Senior Center; the work of the Redevelopment Agency; spending and more.
The rupture burst into public view in February, with Zipprich’s announcement that Maida and Leroi Royal Jones had local party backing to seek the seats now held by Yassin and Triggiano. Jones later dropped out, citing unforeseen circumstances, and was replaced on the ticket by Sturdivant.
“With a handful of signatures from a community of 12,000 Red Bank residents,” the majority group said Wednesday, referring to the local organization, “Zipprich has made his wishes known – those who do not serve him will be replaced.
“After five of his six colleagues on the Borough Council refused his party boss demands, and four have outvoted him at public meetings in the best interests of Red Bank, Zipprich has decided it is easier to to try to replace his colleagues than it is to work with them.”
Zipprich did not immediately respond to a redbankgreen request for comment Wednesday. We’ll include it here if one is received.
In February, Triggiano and Yassin accused Zipprich of pursuing “a vendetta… that reeks of boss politics,” and said they would seek support from the Monmouth County Democrats, which controls the order of candidate name placement on ballots, seen as a key determinant of winners and losers.
“While Zipprich tried to throw Triggiano and Yassin out of the local Red Bank Democratic Party for the 2021 Primary, Zipprich does not have support to do so from the Monmouth County Democrats,” Yassin said in the latest statement. “We had to go to the Monmouth County Democratic Party and tell them what was happening in Red Bank.
“The great Democrats that lead our county see how destructive the local chairman’s personal vendettas have been to our party as a whole, and we’ve secured a spot on the Democratic primary line to run for what is right for Red Bank,” he said.
From the statement:
“Kate and I have talked about this and I agree,” said Councilman Hazim Yassin. “We’re committed to making Red Bank better. We’re not going to see what happens in the primary and then do it. We’re going to lead. We’re going to show our local chairman what Democrats can do when we lead from the front instead of hiding behind a curtain.”
“I’ve worked too hard for Red Bank to watch one person manipulate an antiquated system to the detriment of the town,” said five-term Councilwoman Kathy Horgan. “Others who’ve served here know it too, but they waited too long. We won’t make the same mistake, and we will lead Red Bank Democrats into a new era and a new modern form of government that has the people of Red Bank as its top priority.”
“Nothing is supposed to run like this,” agreed Councilman Erik Yngstrom. “When the four of us agreed to stick together against Ed’s nonsense, we also all agreed to stick to the Management Enhancement Report for the good of the town. That Report says that Red Bank needs a change of government, and I’m all for it.”
Here’s the full statement: Red Bank Democrats 040721
The statement was issued hours after redbankgreen posted an article reporting an absence of movement on the issues of charter reform and nonpartisan elections.
The statement also describes a “leadership retreat” initiated by Yassin and Triggiano, before they took office, to “help the council develop its working relationships and a new start,” aided by a volunteer professional.
But the meeting “was a waste of time – our Chairman did nothing but play on his phone for four hours; I was embarrassed for the person that volunteered to help us,” Yassin is quoted as saying.
None of the majority members immediately responded to questions emailed them Wednesday, including why the session was deemed necessary.
Local Republican Chairman Jonathan Maciel Penney, who is one of his party’s two “placeholder” candidates to unseat Triggiano and Yassin, was unavailable for comment.
Separately, borough resident Scott Broschart has been spearheading an effort dubbed “Red Bank First” to force a form-of-government change via voter referendum.
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