On the ballot November 2: Red Bank council candidate Jacqueline Sturdivant. (Photo provided by candidate. Click to enlarge.)

Red Bank voters will have three candidates to choose from when they elect two council members November 2.

Here’s what candidate Jacqueline Sturdivant had to say in response to a questionnaire sent to the three by redbankgreen.

Jacqueline Sturdivant

Address: PO BOX 8254 Red Bank, NJ [See * below]

Where did you grow up? New Jersey

If you have college or graduate degrees, where did you earn them, and in what areas of study?

M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and History from Boston College

Have your served in the military? If so, which branch and when? No

What do you do for a living? What if anything about your work makes you particularly suited to serve on the borough council?

I am a corporate strategy, product development, and leadership development executive specializing in helping companies capitalize on new market opportunities. I have built throughout my career an understanding of market segments and product fit. I have created or expanded businesses at all of my companies and am told by my colleagues that the keys to my success stem from my ability to have empathy, listening skills, marketing and taking products to market.

As a results driven business leader, I bring private sector success and efficiency to local government, while promoting teamwork and encouraging Individual contributions and innovation to improve services for all Red Bank residents and businesses.

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?  20+ years

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

Community Activity

·      President of Board – Courtyard of Red Bank

·      Supporting member, LunchBreak

·      Contributing Member, T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center

·      Judge, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, Business Plan Competition

·      Students2Science, New Jersey, Volunteer to support, inspire, motivate, and educate elementary, middle and high school students to pursue careers in science and technology.

·      MESA, Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement, Volunteer in partnership with the University of California system to promote and  strengthen math and science skills for underrepresented students and expanded access to higher education and productive careers.

My environmental and sustainability activities were in California and Hawaii:

·      Distributed composite bags to residents in Monterrey County.

·      Participated in the Fort Ord cleanup

·      Supported the plastic bag ban to stop sea turtle deaths

·      Removed garbage from South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii

·      Removing garage from the North Shore beaches to protect pregnant seals and their babies

Party affiliation: Democrat

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

I have been a lifelong registered democrat since I started to vote.

I support the values of the Democratic party:

·      Health care and Education are rights

·      Diversity is a strength

·      The economy should work for everyone

·      Facts and truth matter

The Democratic party was to first to elect the female Vice President, Kamala Harris and supports women’s reproductive rights.

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Shirley Chisholm

Prior to Ruth Bader Ginsburg serving as an associate justice of the US Supreme Court, she was a champion for gender equality and equity. Ginsburg made significant advances for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution which led to legal victories that discourage legislatures from treating women and men differently under the law.

Shirley Chisholm was a politician, educator, and author. Mrs. Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the US Congress and served seven terms. In 1971 Chisholm became the first Black candidate to run for a major party’s, the Democratic Party, nomination for President of the United States. Chisholm started her political career by leading the expansion of food and nutrition programs for the poor. Chisholm has been a major influence on other women of color in politics including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Vice President Kamala Harris, and me.  Ten years after her death Chisholm was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Thanks to the historic courage and groundbreaking accomplishments of Ginsburg and Chisholm, generations of women, including myself, have vastly increased opportunities and access to education and careers.

Why are you running for Red Bank council?

I have lived here for over 20 years and love everything about our town: our diversity, our families, our downtown, theaters, parks, and Riverfront. The unique beauty of Red Bank is the cultural, racial, and socio-economic diversity. It is my honor to serve this community.

Recently, things have started to change. Huge buildings are going up, and many residents are being forced to move because they can no longer afford to live here. People are asking for help and they are being ignored. There is no discussion about how such large, rapid development will impact our infrastructure, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our quality of life.

We also need to put Red Bank’s financial house in order. Our revenues are declining and our debt is increasing. The empty storefronts and the lack of maintenance and upkeep of our parks all point to a town that is not properly managed. It is not the time to make sweetheart deals for developers that will cost us millions in lost revenues.

This is why I am running for Red Bank Bourgh council.  I want to plan for our future with a vision of smart growth that ensures our neighborhoods are valued, safe and preserved. We are all stakeholders here and I plan on representing our interests, not those of outsiders and developers.

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

Key Issues:

·      Overdevelopment in Red Bank and the lack of discussion or plans for how such large, rapid development will impact our infrastructure, our neighborhoods, and our quality of life.

·      Property tax increases

·      Lack of Fiscal responsibility of the Borough

·      Lack of civility during Council meetings

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

When Elected, I will vote to:

1.     Honor existing civility rules to ensure all residents and business owners are treated with courtesy and respect

2.     Disband the Redevelopment Agency

3.     Eliminate Spot Zoning In Red Bank

4.     Support strict enforcement of Building Codes

5.     Commission a New Master Plan, Strategic Plan, and Vision Plan

6.     Repeal the ordinance creating an authoritarian Business Administrator and return control of Red Bank to the resident’s elected Council Members

7.     Implement Phase 2 of our Riverfront Renovation Project to make Marine Park Green

8.     Authorize the Historic Preservation Commission’s entire inventory of Red Bank properties and historic sites

9.     Incorporate improved Complete Streets and Pedestrian Plan into new Master Plan

10.   Ensure ongoing maintenance and timely repair of all Borough owned assets

Is Red Bank doing all it can to keep the municipal portion of the tax rate in check? If not, what should be done?

In the past, Red Bank Democrats have worked hard to hold the tax rate flat. In recent years we have seen an increase in spending and additional debt being taken on. I have a tremendous amount of experience with budgeting up to $1.5 billion and look forward to analyzing the finances of our municipal government.

Do you agree with the plan to install retractable bollards in order to easily close a portion of Broad Street to vehicular traffic? Why or why not?

Yes, it will help our downtown business district and enable visitors to enjoy our town.

Do you agree with the current plan to relocate the parking lot and remodel Marine Park?

Yes, we need to implement phase two of the project. Open space and parking are important issues to Red Bankers.

What would you do as a council member to provide more outdoor recreation for residents, particularly those who live on the West Side?

Re-establish Count Basie 365 concert series and work with council to develop future plans for Sunset Park.

Is the borough doing enough to safeguard pedestrians and bicyclists? What additional measures, if any, do you think are needed?

A comprehensive update to the 2009 bicycle and pedestrian plan is needed.

Is the borough becoming over-developed? Please explain.

Yes. We are seeing more and more dense housing developments applying to our land use boards for variances and approvals. We can look to redevelopment approved in the train station area and recent applications on the Shrewsbury Avenue corridor for additional density.

 What do you think of the work the Redevelopment Agency has done regarding municipal facilities generally, and the Senior Center in particular?

My observation of the Redevelopment Agency is that it became a bureaucratic agency, which was well intentioned in the beginning,  to help solve the problems of the municipalities aging properties. The need to solve those problems has escaped the agency and the borough spent three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get little return on its investment. The Senior Center still stands vacant and it should have been restored for our must vulnerable residents, our Seniors.

In May, the Redevelopment Agency recommended “proceeding expeditiously with the final planning, acquisition negotiations and bonding for an estimated cost of $9.3 million” to rebuild and expand the public works facility on Chestnut Street. Do you agree with that recommendation?

Public Works has been operating out of trailers for more than 15 years. Those trailers, as I understand it, were supposed to be 5 year temporary housing for the staff and operations. In short, the Borough is responsible for maintaining its assets. I am not familiar with the costs associated with this proposal but do agree the public works department needs a permanent building.

What is your stance, if any, on payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements for new development?

PILOTS serve their purpose and can be beneficial to communities at large. In the Saxum request, I believe the Planning Board voted correctly in denying the application. It is not in our community’s interest to give huge tax breaks to for-profit developers. I believe developers must come into Red Bank with an understanding of our zoning and tax requirements, so that they can best assess the profitability of the property they wish to develop.

Residents have witnessed a great deal of acrimony among council members in recent months. Why is this happening, and what would you do as a council member to stop it?

Honor existing civility rules to ensure all residents and business owners are treated with courtesy and respect.

Are partisan elections hurting Red Bank? Why or why not?

I am interested in learning more about this. I have reached out to other towns to discuss the pros and cons. At this point we are looking at a charter commission to assess the form of government in Red Bank. There are 12 options so there is a lot of work to be done.

Since the start of the pandemic, council meetings have been held remotely via Zoom. Should the remote-participation option continue when in-person meetings resume?

Once in person Council meeting have been deemed safe and comply with CDC and New Jersey mandates, the mayor and council should consider in-person and virtual attendance. By having both options more residents will be able to participate in the meetings.

Do you support the public comment protocol for council meetings? How might it be changed to address complaints that it inhibits transparency?

In order to be engaged with the citizenry of Red Bank, public comment is necessary. However, we must continue to honor the recently enacted civility rules to ensure all residents and business owners are treated with courtesy and respect.

* [Editor’s note: asked for a home address, Sturdivant replied, “I live on the East side of Red Bank.”]

Here are redbankgreen‘s Q&As with the other two Red Bank council candidates:

***** ELECTION NOTES ***** 

• Find the Red Bank ballot here.

• For information on the various ways to cast your vote, check out this article. It includes information on mail-in ballots and early, in-person voting, which begins October 23.

Information about election-related deadlines is here.

• Monmouth County election offices (300 Halls Mill Road, Freehold Township) will offer extended hours to allow for voters to apply for and drop off vote-by-mail ballots. The offices will be open on Friday, October 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, October 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• In-person, election day voting will take place at the polling stations shown below. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Note that in-person, election day voting for residents of the 1st and 8th districts will take place at borough hall (90 Monmouth Street).

• Finally, here’s a video on using Monmouth County’s new digital voting machines, which employ touchscreen technology familiar to users of smartphones and tablets:

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