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RED BANK: EARLY SPLIT AT REORGANIZATION

red-bank-sturdivant-oath-010122-500x332-9141884Jacqueline Sturdivant arrives for her swearing-in, with fellow council members Ed Zipprich at left and Erik Yngstrom at right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-9108919Amid calls for comity, three Red Bank council members tried but failed to derail the appointment of a fourth to a ceremonial post Saturday.

The New Year also began with a resident accusing a council member of “lying” about his place of residence.

red-bank-pallone-triggiano-010122-500x332-6800106Led by Congressman Frank Pallone, Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, center, swears the oath of office to start her second term as Mayor Pasquale Menna holds the microphone. Below, fire Chief Nick Ferraro. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

red-bank-fire-chief-nick-ferraro-010122-220x146-7909490

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan kicked off the annual reorganization session by nominating second-term Councilwoman Kate Triggiano to serve as council president for the year, and urged a vote for her “in the spirit of unity.”

But Councilman Michael Ballard nominated Horgan, and received a second from Councilman Ed Zipprich, a frequent ally in opposition to Triggiano.

Ballard cited a “longstanding tradition” under which the majority party picks someone who’s up for re-election.

Horgan, a Triggiano ally, was having none of it.

“I really don’t want to be council president,” she said, noting that she’d held the seat previously, as had everyone else on the dais except for Triggiano and newly seated Councilwoman Jacqueline Sturdivant. Horgan thanked Ballard for the gesture.

Ballard then nominated Sturdivant, on the basis that she was the top vote-getter in the November election.

As it did on numerous occasions in 2020 and 2021, the all-Democratic council split on the Triggiano nomination, with Horgan, Erik Yngstrom and Triggiano herself voting yes, and Sturdivant, Ballard and Zipprich opposed.

Pasquale Menna, who as mayor votes only in the event of a tie, said he “would have preferred a unanimous voice” from the council, went with Triggiano.

“I didn’t think I was going to do this this early,” he said, barely five minutes into the new year.

The council president chairs council meetings when the mayor is absent, but otherwise has no official duties.

Triggiano said she would preside “with the utmost respect for everybody on this council. I’m here to make sure we all work together. New year, new beginnings. Let’s stay civil and kind.”

The council also split on a resolution appointing borough professionals, which Ballard said he had some issues with. Because he, Sturdivant and Zipprich abstained, rather than voted no, the measure was deemed approved without the need for a mayoral tiebreaker.

Ballard also opposed the nominations of Triggiano and Yngstrom to the Redevelopment Agency, which has has called for disbanding.

During public comments, Branch Avenue resident Marybeth Maida claimed Yngstrom no longer lives in Red Bank. She cited his recent marriage to Donna Lomurro, who owns a home in Wall Township.

“Obviously, you’re living with your wife,” Maida said. “I’m a little confused as to how you could be in this position if you don’t live here.”

Yngstrom responded that he still lives in town, splitting his time between Wall and Red Bank.

“I do see my wife every day, but we do not live in the same house right now,” he said. “I live at 95 Manor Drive.”

Maida said Yngstrom was “lying” about his residence, citing his Facebook posts in which “you said you couldn’t wait to spend the rest of your life with [your wife], so I guess that means Friday through Sunday.

“Enjoy lying to us,” she said.

“I object to that kind of rhetoric, after we just said we should start the year off in a very positive way,” Horgan said. “There’s all this venom coming out.”

Former council member Cindy Burnham then also said Yngstrom no longer lives in town, claiming he’s building a house in Colts Neck. His continued service on the council and “running for re-election” is “a corrupt move,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Yngstrom, an attorney whose wife works as an administrator at the same firm in Wall Township, told redbankgreen he was facing “a big decision” about whether to stay in Red Bank and seek a third term or move out of town and relinquish his seat.

In other business, the council:

• Held off on designating a consulting engineer, a contract held by CME Associates. The matter is expected to be on the agenda January 12.

• Voted to approve Yngstrom as chairman of the powerful finance committee, which shapes the budget.

• Named Sturdivant to head the education and technology committee. She’ll also serve on the parks and rec committee.

• Named Ben Forest as the mayor’s representative on the Red Bank RiverCenter board. Lauren Nicosia and Cassie Murphy will serve as designated citizen representatives.

Appointments and other resolutions can be viewed here.

Like all other council sessions since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the reorganization meeting was conducted via Zoom. At a brief ceremony held three hours earlier, Triggiano and Sturdivant were sworn to office as a light rain fell on a portable canopy set up outside borough hall.

For Triggiano, the event marked the start of her second three-year term. For Sturdivant, it was the start of her first. She replaced one-term councilman Hazim Yassin, whom she beat in the Democratic primary in June.

Menna led the ceremonies as Nick Ferraro was sworn as 2022 chief of the volunteer fire department, succeeding Bobby Holiday. Tommy Welsh took office as second deputy chief. Welsh, who works for the borough as fire inspector, has previously served as chief twice before, in 1996 and 2014.

TD Doremus, who will serve as first deputy, was not present.

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