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RED BANK: HORGAN BAILS; NEWCOMER RUNS

horgan-menna-050616-500x375-1705932Councilwoman Kathy Horgan greets Mayor Pasquale Menna at the Mayor’s Ball in 2016. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

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Yet another Red Bank Democratic official is heading for the exit while decrying “divisiveness” stoked by party leadership.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan told redbankgreen Tuesday that, “with a heavy heart,” she’s not seeking a sixth three-year term.

Meanwhile, a political newcomer has stepped forward hoping to succeed Pasquale Menna as mayor.

mirandi-ballard-jackson-040422-500x375-6704480Angela Mirandi, Michael Ballard and John Jackson, above; Billy Portman delivering his petition to borough hall Monday, below. (Photos by David Kessler, above, Billy Portman, below. Click to enlarge.)

billy-portman-040522-220x169-3967468

Horgan’s decision comes one day after Menna said he won’t seek  a fifth four-year term.

In standing down, Menna removes the most obvious barrier to Councilman Michael Ballard winning the Democratic party nomination for mayor in the June primary.

But Ballard, who’s running on a ticket with council candidates Angela Mirandi (an incumbent) and John Jackson, won’t be without a challenger. Also filing a petition Monday was a political unknown: Billy Portman.

Portman said he’s running to counter “machine” politics.

In addition, local Democratic chairman and council member Ed Zipprich has released the names of the 18 candidates seeking seats as so-called county committee members. They’ll oppose a breakaway slate, including Horgan, that’s hoping to clean house and unseat him from the party’s helm.

Here’s a rundown of the latest:

• In a prepared statement, Horgan said she will not run for another term but will complete her 15th year on the governing body.

In it, she wrote:

It is time for new blood and new ideas to take up the mantle and move Red Bank forward – responsibly.  We have all witnessed the divisiveness, distrust, and acrimony that have pervaded the work of the Council over the past several years.  Progress has been stymied in Red Bank because of the lack of – or rather the misuse of – leadership.  There has been a steady decline in the ethics and transparency of several Council members. Red Bank deserves better than that!

I’ve become increasingly aware that the only way forward for Red Bank to survive is to adopt a non-partisan form of government, which allows any resident in good standing to run for political office and not be hand-picked by a small group of insiders.  We have many wonderful, qualified residents who would bring new vigor into the policy-making aspects of the Borough if just given a chance to run.  My hope is that we turn the corner and that civility and teamwork regain their proper place in our decision-making.

Separately, Horgan clarified that by “lack of – or rather the misuse of – leadership” she was referring “to party leadership.  The Democratic Municipal Chair in particular.”

Here’s the full statement: Horgan statement 040522

Zipprich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Horgan joined the council in 2008, and was closely allied with Zipprich until fractures in the all-Democratic governing body began appearing three years ago.

She’s the third Democrat to officially part ways with the local party in two months.

In January, Horgan ally  Erik Yngstrom quit the council, citing political “divisiveness” and “toxic rhetoric” about his family. That led to Mirandi’s appointment to fill his seat through December 31.

Horgan, along with party secretary Kate Okeson, is suing the party, Zipprich, Mirandi and the borough itself, hoping to oust Mirandi. A Superior Court hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.

On Monday, Menna said he decided not to challenge Ballard for the mayoral nod after 10 of the 18 county committee members voted to “dump” him last month.

“The Zip quartet” – Zipprich, Ballard, Mirandi and Councilwoman Jacqueline Sturdivant – “doesn’t seem capable of functioning in a collegiate fashion,” Menna said.

• Portman, of John Street, told redbankgreen in a statement that he has campaigned for Democratic presidential candidates “since John Kerry,” and “started following our Red Bank politics a bit closer during the 2018 race, when Democrats won every seat” on the council.

He continued:

I was disgusted with how the last race was handled, where it seemed to me, as an outsider, that the local party machine was running people against our own excellent candidates.  And now, to force Mayor Menna out, it just left a really bad taste in my mouth and I decided I had to get off the couch and do something. There are too many good people in this town, with so much to offer. I’m hoping, by my example, to get some new folks involved locally.

The owner of Advantage Construction, a commercial building contractor, and Elegant Mist, a cooling systems contractor, Portman also sings in a cover band called So Watt.

• A week after a slate self-styled as “Democrats for Red Bank,” which includes Horgan and Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, announced its challenge to the Zipprich-led organization, Zipprich unveiled his slate Tuesday.

Here are the two slates:

District ORGANIZATION SLATE DEMOCRATS FOR RED BANK
1 JP Nicolaides Suellen Sims
1 Remedios Quiroz Anne Davis
2 Pat Pinto Lesley Martin
2 Rich Angowski Frank Corrado
3 Patricia Montigros Wilson Beebe
3 Bruce Maida Kathy Horgan
4 Aimee Humphreys Laura Jannone
4 John Jackson Tim Zebo
5 David Kessler Kristina Bonatakis
5 Kathy Hakim Boris Kofman
6 Vanessa Blychanton Nancy Facey-Blackwood
6 Jesse Garrison Bob Morrow
7 Lauren Nicosia Paul Savoia
7 Frederick Stone Ryan Devaney
8 Dionne Trottie Register Kate Triggiano
8 Thomas Register Ben Forrest
9 Dorothy Davis Julie Flores-Castillo
9 Juanita Lewis Francis Calabrese

All the organization candidates except those in district 5 will be at the top of their respective ballots following a positioning lottery held Tuesday morning, Zipprich said in an email.

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