RED BANK: COUNCIL CANDIDATE TRIGGIANO
On the ballot November 2: Red Bank council candidate Kate Triggiano. (Photo by John T. Ward. 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 Kate Triggiano had to say in response to a questionnaire sent to the three by redbankgreen.
Kate L. Triggiano
Address: 22 Leighton Avenue
Where did you grow up? Middletown NJ
Where did you go to high school? Middletown High School North
College Degree: BFA School of Visual Arts, 2010
Have You Served in the military? 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 currently dedicate all of my time to my Council responsibilities, volunteering, organizing, and raising my 7 year old son, Otto. I worked as a store manager on Broad Street, and after Otto was born basically any job that was compatible schedule-wise with my husband’s job. My work experience growing up was diverse, and much of it was in Red Bank. This makes me particularly suited to serve on council as my experiences connected me to all different people with different needs right here in town. I bring empathy and the understanding of a diverse range of issues to the table always.
How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? I’ve lived in Red Bank with my husband since 2013.
Do you own real estate in town? Yes, our family home on Leighton Ave.
Please tell us a little bit about your community involvement efforts, if any.
I am an active and committed Red Bank resident serving our town as a member of the Code Blue Committee and the Red Bank Primary PTO. I am a volunteer firefighter and member of RBFD Westside Hose. Serving on Council, for the year 2021, I currently serve as the Environmental Commission liaison, Public Safety Chair, and Senior Center liaison. I also serve on the Parks and Recreation and Finance Committees.
Party affiliation: Democratic
How important is party affiliation to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?
Democrats consistently stand up for diversity, our environment, the well being of our residents, and the sustainability of Red Bank. I am honored to be affiliated with friends, family, and neighbors who care and act together upon important issues in our town. While being a proud member of my party is a part of me, it doesn’t restrict me. I work with anyone and everyone who wants to bring positive progress to Red Bank.
Do you have a role model in public life? Who and why? One of my role models is my council-mate Red Bank Councilwoman Kathy Horgan. Kathy works at amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. She is fully dedicated to her duties as a public servant, and to her profession. Kathy inspires me to always put my all into everything I do.
Why are you running for Red Bank council?
I am running for re-election because I love Red Bank and improving the quality of life for my neighbors and our local community. My goal as an elected official is to ensure that residents know they can reach me at any time with any issue or problem, whether it relates to the Borough or not. During my first term on Borough Council, I’ve been drawn to the community service aspects of being an elected official – whether through volunteerism or community organizing or trying to solve neighborhood problems. If re-elected, I’d be honored to continue serving my neighbors.
For instance, there was a Red Bank resident who reached out to me with their medical bill for COVID testing, which was supposed to be free. The resident was to be charged zero out of pocket, but the bill was hundreds of dollars. I researched the issue, navigated the provider’s customer service, and connected the resident to the provider, who provided full reimbursement. This led to me discovering many residents who were wrongfully charged, and with a little organizing, we were able to get all residents their reimbursements.
On another occasion, a resident contacted me with concerns for senior citizen safety. I didn’t have an immediate answer, but not long after, I was at a local government conference and learned of a senior lockbox program offered in Princeton. The lockbox allows seniors to give first responders advance permission to enter their home without forcible entry in an emergency situation. We now have such a lockbox program in Red Bank thanks to a thoughtful resident and the responsive government I’ve sought to bring to Red Bank during my first term on the Council.
After growing up in neighboring Middletown, but being employed and enjoying ourselves in Red Bank most of our teenage and young adult lives in Red Bank, there was only one place my husband, Dave, and I were going to start our family. Since buying our home on Leighton Avenue nine years ago, and as parents of a 7-year-old attending Red Bank public schools, our entire family has been dedicated to improving our community. While I may be the one who recently graduated from the Fire Academy seeking to expand my service into volunteer firefighter, Dave is equally committed to community service in caring for our son while I dedicate a lot of my time to Red Bank. I would not be able to stand for re-election without my family’s support, and they’re behind me one hundred percent, as always.
As a homeowner, mother and taxpayer, I will continue to fight to keep Red Bank affordable and sustainable for us, and for the next generation. I value science and data-based decisions at all levels of government, and they are most important at the local level. I would be honored to continue to serve, and if re-elected, I will continue to fight for progressive values and community collaboration to solve our problems in Red Bank.
What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and how do you plan to address them?
The most pressing issue facing our town is making sure the Charter Study Commission is implemented. It’s a comprehensive change that decides the future of our town.
What if any specific new initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
If there is one thing I am known for, it is initiatives. In my first term, just some of the initiatives I spearheaded and worked on with the borough team include the RBPD translator program, RBPD “Blue Angels”, the plastic film recycling program, and Red Bank Pride in the Park. I will continue to nurture these initiatives, create new ones when sustainable, while also focusing on the nuts and bolts of our municipality.
Is Red Bank doing all it can to keep the municipal portion of the tax rate in check? If not, what should be done?
Yes. In the most recent budget the tax rate remained flat. Due to the pandemic, there was a concerted effort to achieve this because of the economic impact on all taxpayers. Moving forward, we will continue to deploy innovative spending plans and utilize funds from creative sources. I am proud to be a part of the team that created our new borough grants program, which has brought over $1,000,000 into town. These grants help us fund local projects without increasing our taxes.
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. The Broadwalk has been a success, and in order to preserve the longevity of the project, improvements must be made. The bollards will provide flexibility regarding the days and hours of operation, are more aesthetically pleasing than the current barriers and police vehicles, and will provide necessary safety for all.
Do you agree with the current plan to relocate the parking lot and remodel Marine Park?
Yes. The borough and its consulting firm created a plan that included a great deal of public input. By moving a large portion of the parking, we will alleviate flooding by improving drainage and we will gain considerably more green space near the water front. By constructing the new parking lot as a first step to the project, we will maintain the revenue that we receive, which ultimately aids in the improvements to the park.
What would you do as a council member to provide more outdoor recreation for residents, particularly those who live on the West Side?
As a mom who lives on the west side, I was proud to be a part of the Bellhaven project as a member of the Environmental Commission, all the way through to the ribbon cutting last year. Additionally, during my first term, the borough made great improvements to Eastside Park and Count Basie Park, including a beautiful new track and new turf field. A long term priority for me is to move forward with construction of a park at Sunset Avenue, turning a greatly underutilized property into a place for varied recreational opportunities.
Is the borough doing enough to safeguard pedestrians and bicyclists? What additional measures, if any, do you think are needed?
I am committed to pedestrian and bicycle safety and have pushed forward a number of initiatives during my first term. These include traffic calming bollards that were initially installed at Bridge Avenue and Drs. James Parker Blvd and have now expanded to other areas of town. The upcoming Broad Street project incorporates a number of improvements specifically aimed at pedestrian safety and similar construction will occur on Shrewsbury Avenue thanks to the TAP Grant awarded during my tenure. The current traffic circulation study that we commissioned will explore possible adjustments to traffic flow on our streets with a concentration on improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Is the borough becoming over-developed? Please explain.
I cannot in good faith call our town overdeveloped with such sad areas as two abandoned gas stations. We need to smartly utilize space to satisfy our resident’s needs for affordable housing, services, and green space. I believe the new master plan will be critical to this and other progress.
Full disclosure, there are developments in town that I wish were better but due to a lack of setbacks. aesthetic decisions, etc. some don’t completely hit the mark. I have not had the opportunity to have a vote on any of the existing developments in town as they were all approved before my term on zoning board, which was in 2018. The Rail was approved by the planning board in 2016, Station Place was approved by the Zoning Board in 2011…you get the idea.
There are steps that we can take as a borough to make sure there are design standards and other parameters in place, especially in the train station area. One of those steps is one of my goals for next year, which is for Red Bank to be designated an NJ DOT Transit Village. Learn more at https://www.state.nj.us/transportation/community/village/
What do you think of the work the Redevelopment Agency has done regarding municipal facilities generally, and the Senior Center in particular?
In the absence of redevelopment projects, it was kind of the redevelopment agency to perform this work. Moving forward, if we are to continue to have a redevelopment agency, we need to figure out more creative ways to utilize the agency and the resources it can bring to the table to the benefit of the community, taxpayers, and the borough. I am appreciative of the Redevelopment Agency for presenting and compiling options for the Senior Center, for accepting and absorbing a considerable amount of public input, and giving the Senior Center project concrete direction. I’m glad we are moving forward.
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?
Yes. The facilities are beyond disrepair and they have been in temporary trailers for most of my life. There’s a need to invest in our public works infrastructure so we can function as a borough. The DPW facilities are clearly the most in need of a significant upgrade of all of our properties. The plan as presented is solid, however there are many factors to consider before moving forward. This must remain a top priority for our town.
What is your stance, if any, on payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements for new development?
The question to be asked before considering any PILOTS whether there is an undeniable community benefit that we could achieve only by entering this agreement. There is not a single person, myself included, currently serving on the governing body that would grant a PILOT simply for a developer’s benefit. PILOTs can be a useful tool but must be entered with the utmost caution and care. Community benefits such as affordable housing, arts and culture, aid to the community, or public waterfront access may be reasons that the borough considers a PILOT. Examples of projects made possible by PILOT agreements in the borough are the affordable senior citizen housing on Catherine Street, “Locust Landing” affordable housing, the housing authority, and the Count Basie Theatre. I have never voted on a PILOT, nor has anyone applied for one during my time on council. I look forward to more public education and outreach on this subject.
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?
I’ve made my voice heard and my message clear on a number of complex issues. From budget amendments that were presented by others as plausible, when in reality they would have broken finance and personnel law, to debunking rumors and myths and reassuring our residents that our senior center is valued and will be improved, my voice has been one of reason and truth. I will always remain respectful but I will not remain silent when misinformation is presented as facts to mislead the public. I would only ask the same of anyone who serves Red Bank. As leaders, it is important for all members of our governing body to represent the borough with honesty and integrity and I pledge my continued commitment to doing so.
Are partisan elections hurting Red Bank? Why or why not?
The perfect storm of an outdated form of government mixed with bad politics is hanging over our town. That’s why I voted for the charter study commission so the people can decide what’s next. Even though it would shorten the term I am currently running for, I am in favor of a change and I encourage everyone to vote YES on the charter study commission.
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?
There have been several silver linings to the pandemic, including virtual meetings. The increased public participation in government meetings is a positive change and to the extent that it is feasible to continue this once we return to in-person meetings, I am committed to facilitating this. At a minimum, I believe that our meetings should be live streamed or broadcast through our Borough’s online platforms to be as transparent as possible and provide improved access to the public.
Do you support the public comment protocol for council meetings? How might it be changed to address complaints that it inhibits transparency?
A structured public comment protocol is necessary in order to provide order to our meetings and provide the public with an opportunity to participate and obtain information they desire in a proper manner. While we can always improve on our processes and protocols, I do believe that we have made progress and should strive to always improve our interaction with the public. The people we serve have a right to be heard and receive responses from their elected officials, and the protocols implemented and since improved upon, provide that opportunity in a manner that is beneficial to everyone involved. Before being elected, I was a regular public commenter and I appreciate people’s desire to be involved. I am dedicated to making sure all members of the public are treated with dignity and respect.
Please add anything you’d like here: Vote November 2nd!
***** ELECTION GUIDE *****
• 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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