RED BANK: FIVE UNITE AS CHARTER SLATE

Running as a team, clockwise from upper left: Nancy Facey-Blackwood, Mark Taylor, Kate Okeson, Scott Broschart and Ben Forest. (Photos by John T. Ward and Chris Ern. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Five self-described “forward-thinking” Red Bank activists have united in pursuit of seats on Red Bank’s charter study commission in the November election.

Here’s the full text of a statement sent to redbankgreen Thursday afternoon:

The Red Bank Charter Study Commission is a once in a generation opportunity for the residents of Red Bank to make an informed and educated decision about how our local government should operate. It’s about time to modernize our borough’s form of government away from one that is currently among the oldest and least inclusive forms of government in New Jersey.

In November, we’ll elect five members to the Commission. The eclectic nature of Red Bank requires a group of people to represent its broad range of questions and concerns. This is why we have put together a slate of five forward thinking residents to run for the Commission.

In a short period of time, we’ve brought together committed Red Bank residents who are dedicated to moving Red Bank forward and working for our community to find out how to best represent and serve all Red Bankers.

The five of us; Scott Broschart, Nancy Facey-Blackwood, Ben Forest, Kate Okeson & Mark Taylor are committed to looking at all available forms of local government from every angle and finding the best solution to move Red Bank forward.

In the coming weeks, we’ll begin rolling out endorsements from prominent community leaders and elected officials from across the political spectrum.

It’s a study after all, and we are ready to ask tough and objective questions, provide a platform for input from all invested in Red Bank, and be ready to make recommendations for change. Let’s hit the reset switch together.

In June, all six Democrats on the borough council voted in favor of an ordinance calling for placement of a charter study referendum on the November 2 ballot.

Voters will be asked if a five-member commission should be formed to review the borough’s form of government, and if so, who should be on it. Any adult resident who collects the required 100 signatures by the September 3 deadline can run.

Each of the five slate members submitted a petition on August 12, according to borough Clerk Pam Borghi. No other petitions have been filed, she said.

None of the five responded immediately to questions sent to them by redbankgreen.

At least one other potential candidate is also known to be soliciting petition signatures: former council member Michael DuPont, of South Street. He told redbankgreen earlier this week that expects to file next week.

The commission’s recommendation could eventually lead to overhauling the form of government used by Red Bank since it became a distinct entity in 1908: the “borough” model, under which the six-member council has the power and the mayor serves largely as a figurehead, voting only to break ties.

Under New Jersey law, municipal governments can take multiple forms.

The commission’s work could also lead to nonpartisan elections, potentially blunting the Democratic party’s 30-year dominance of Red Bank government.

The slate’s members are:

Scott Broschart, of East Bergen Place, who a year ago revived the dormant Red Bank First effort calling for nonpartisan elections.

Nancy Facey-Blackwood, of Chestnut Street, who chairs the borough Environmental Commission.

Ben Forest, of Locust Avenue, a Democrat and activist who serves on the local board of education, where he is a past president.

Kate Okeson, of Chapin Avenue, an educator and activist who chairs the borough Human Relations Commission.

Mark Taylor, of Tilton Avenue, a lifelong borough resident who served a term as a Republican councilman and co-founded Red Bank First.