RED BANK: MIRANDI Q&A

Council candidate Angela Mirandi. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

In the November 8 election, Red Bank voters will pick three members of the municipal government –  the mayor and two council members – for terms that begin January 1.

But the winners may be in office for only six months, depending on the outcome of a ballot referendum on whether to change the town’s form of government. Adoption would trigger another election in May, 2023, for mayor and all six council seats.

To learn their views of the referendum and other issues, redbankgreen recently sent a set of questions to each of the candidates: mayoral contender Billy Portman, who is running unopposed; and council candidates John Jackson, Angela Mirandi, Jonathan Maciel Penney and Mark Taylor.

Here’s what Mirandi had to say.

Name & age: Angela Mirandi, 57

Address: 8 W Lake Road

Where did you grow up? Freehold Township

Where did you go to high school? Freehold Borough High School

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

Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Previous CPA

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

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 29 years

Do you own your home or rent? Homeowner 23 years

What do you do for a living?

I am the Marine Program Owner at Buckeye Partners, LP, a provider of infrastructure and logistics for the world’s energy. I have oversight of over 32 marine terminals and 88 docks globally. I am responsible for creating operational policies, procedures, conducting audits as well as managing a $25 million dollar budget and the execution of projects to maintain these facilities.  I am responsible for interactions with several Federal, State, and local agencies including the Department of Environmental Protection, the US Coast Guard, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. in logistics

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

I have a broad professional background which includes Finance, Operations, IT, and Strategic Planning.  I am trained in Lean Six Sigma which is a process improvement methodology which is a disciplined, data-driven approach for eliminating defects and waste from a process which results in increased revenue, decreased costs, and process improvement.  I have implemented measures and business changes that have resulted in over $10 million dollars in increased revenue and cost reductions in addition to numerous process efficiencies.  I believe these skills are something Red Bank is in desperate need of.

My job requires me to collaborate with many internal and external stakeholders on a daily basis in order to maintain operations and implement projects.  I know how to lead, and I am very good working with others in a team.

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

I currently serve as the Chair of the Finance, Personnel, and Parking Committees and serve on the Public Safety and DPU Committees. I also serve as the liaison to the Shade Tree and Navesink River Municipalities Commissions. In addition, I am a volunteer for HABcore Residential Life and have volunteered for many causes including Habitat for Humanity and Hurricane Disaster Reliefs.

Party affiliation: Democrat

How important is party affiliation to you?

Though I am not heavily engaged in politics, my values align with the democratic party including a woman’s right to choose. I also believe everyone should have the same opportunities including equal access to healthcare, housing, education and earning a fair, livable wage. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is critical as everyone has something to contribute which makes us stronger as a community.

Who won the U.S. presidential election in 2020? Joe Biden

Why are you running for office?

I am running to hold my seat on Council so I can continue to make positive changes in Red Bank and to get things done.  I have lived here for almost 30 years, and I am invested in our town as a homeowner and resident.  We are a town that is diverse, cultural, and inclusive and I want to protect that.  Over the last several years, I have not felt that things were getting done. In addition, I could not understand why we as residents were getting tax increases year after year with no explanation as to why. From what I have observed, Red Bank has operated in a reactive vs. proactive state.  Development that is too large and too dense has gone up with no evaluation of the impact on our infrastructure, neighborhoods, and quality of life.

Since being on Council and working on the budget, I discovered the town had no Vision or Strategic Plan they were working towards for many years.  There has not been a long-term financial plan to make capital improvements and investments.  I think the main contributor to this is you had/have some people on council with no real business experience and the skills needed to know what to do and help guide the town.  I have those skills and know what needs to be done to start planning and executing projects, both short-term and long-term planning.

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

I am not against development but I am against development that is too big and too dense. I would ensure that ordinances that are passed keep development in step with what our infrastructure can handle.  I also would ensure our boards are staffed with individuals who will follow these ordinances and investigate ways to ensure developers are making contributions to the community and infrastructure that is needed to support these new projects. We also need to evaluate increasing the required minimum affordable housing units with new development to ensure everyone can afford to live in our community.

Simple quality of life issues:  Safe streets to walk and bike, a clean and maintained town and parks.

Lack of a Vision or Strategic plan.  I would start by using the Master Plan as a tool and guide as we look at the development of both.

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

Traffic and street safety has been a significant issue for me as a resident and I have spoken out about this as a resident and Councilwoman. Speaking to residents all over Red Bank, they agree this is a major problem affecting everyone from driving to biking to walking. We need to address this immediately.  We cannot wait until we have enough accidents to install four way stop signs (where needed) to help calm traffic and speeding on our streets.  We don’t want to continue to be a town that is reactive and not proactive.  This is a priority project for me that needs to get done.

Do you support or oppose the November 8 referendum to change Red Bank’s government from a borough form to council-manager form, and to hold nonpartisan elections, as recommended by the Charter Study Commission? Please explain.

I always thought anyone should be able to run for office and serve their town.  I think changing the ballot is a good first step. I think for it to be equitable though there also needs to be campaign reform. I now know firsthand how much a campaign costs upwards of $20,000 and more.  Without campaign reform, non-partisan elections will not take the money out of politics if political parties are still supporting and funding non-partisan campaigns. It puts low income and unaffiliates at a disadvantage.

Since this will be determined by the voters of Red Bank, as Councilwoman, I will follow the lead of our congressman and neither publicly support or oppose the referendum.  I will let the voters decide.

Do you believe the council meetings in recent years have been unnecessarily rancorous? If so, what specifically should residents expect from you to address the situation?

Yes, I will continue to act as a professional and treat people with respect and integrity.  As part of my job, I work and collaborate with a vast array of people day to day to get projects and work accomplished.  I am always open to hearing the opinions and facts presented by others and I will continue to work this way on Council.

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

I always believe there is room for improvement.  I don’t believe we are operating as efficiently as we can.  Operating lean does not always mean you are operating efficiently.  I think there are areas within our operations that should be assessed and evaluated to see where we can increase revenue, decrease costs, operate more efficiently, and provide better services to our taxpayers.  The only way to make these improvements is by objectively evaluating our systems, processes, and people. This is what I have done throughout my career.  I made it my objective this year to not only keep our overall municipal taxes flat, (and not just a tax rate) because of the economic environment we were heading into but also because we had nothing to show the taxpayers what they were getting with their tax dollars.

Do you support the Kimley-Horn proposal for redesigning Marine Park, including the relocation of the parking lot to the former site of tennis courts?

I saw the drawings and I think this would be great.  The issue is although we have made some investments since Super Storm Sandy, Marine Park is not the park it used to be.  The first phase of creating parking where the tennis courts use to be, has been stalled in getting the permits. This has cost the taxpayers over $100,000. In addition, the building of this new parking lot would cost an additional $500,000 plus engineering fees and this was years ago before the economic downturn and inflation.  My concern with this project is that even if we lease all of the 65 parking spaces, this is only $65,000/year in revenue for a park that would be primarily now a parking lot. There is no target date or cost estimate for the final improvements on the park itself. This is specifically why a Vision and Strategic Plan must be created to prioritize projects.  If Marine Park completion is lower on the priority list and wouldn’t be addressed for many years, we owe it to our residents to start with a phased in approach that enhances the park in the short-term as we work towards a long-term vision.

Do you agree that the former landfill at the western end of Sunset Avenue should be redeveloped as a park?

The former landfill first needs to be remediated by May of 2024.  It would be nice to have another park in Red Bank, especially on the West Side, however we don’t know the extent of the contamination nor the remediation plans to say whether this would be a safe location for a park. More investigation and evaluation needs and will be done.

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

If it wasn’t safe to build a park at the former landfill site, I would like to work with the environmental, health and public safety professionals to identify safe uses for this piece of property.

Do you agree that the municipal public works yard needs to be rehabilitated?

Absolutely.  Everyone agrees this is the top priority that needs to be addressed.  We have been discussing this at numerous DPU meetings.  The Redevelopment Agency hired professionals to evaluate and design a new facility, however the problem is the only design presented assumed the Borough would purchase the property next door. Since the property was not for sale then and is still not for sale now, we need to work with the architect who did the design and see what can be done utilizing the footprint we currently have. The positive thing is a good piece of the work has already been done.  We discussed this at the last Workshop Meeting that we need to move forward with a design that can be implemented on the existing footprint. This can’t wait any longer.

How should the borough prioritize its needs for large capital projects, such as those identified above?

The hard work completed on the Master Plan should produce a list of projects that are needed and/or wanted.  There needs to be a compilation and review of all these projects including working with the residents for their input on prioritization. In addition, we need to make sure these projects that are critical to safe borough operations are at the top of the list.  Subsequently, a strategic plan would need to be developed on how these projects will be executed.  We would then get cost estimates for the top projects to see how they would be financed.

Who should have the lead role in guiding those projects? 

As far as prioritizing that would be the governing body and the tax payers. Based on financing needs, and project timelines, priorities would be adjusted, as needed.

Was the disbanding of the Redevelopment Agency earlier this year the right decision? Please elaborate.

Yes.  By no fault of the residents who volunteered their time to work with the consultants on the Redevelopment Agency, we were not getting the bang for the buck.  We spent approximately $500,000 on consultants, professionals, and salaries.  Their last meeting was in July 2021 and they never researched prior to the DPU design that the property that was needed for their design was not for sale. The Redevelopment Agency was also evaluating moving Borough Hall to the Wells Fargo building but the property went into escrow the month prior to them announcing this, and nothing was ever discussed in public after that.

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

No. A complete Streets Evaluation was created in 2018 but not much has been done since then.  This needs to be a part of the Vision and Strategic Plan, however we can start doing things right now like stricter enforcement, more solar beacons for crossings, evaluating our speed limits, solar speed signs, etc.  There’s a lot we can do, we just need to do it. We need to also look at the entire town on how we will address safe biking on all our streets.

Should Broadwalk be permitted to return in 2023? Should it be an annually recurring feature? Should any changes be implemented?

Broadwalk should continue not only for the businesses but also for the residents.  We paid and installed the bollards so we can have the flexibility to shut down Broad Street.  The Broadwalk Committee needs to follow through on the issues and concerns raised by residents, businesses, and public safety to ensure it is equitable for everyone.

Do you believe hybrid council meetings, allowing for both in-person and remote participation, should be made a permanent feature?

Definitely!

Please add anything you’d like here:

It has been an honor to serve the people of Red Bank since earlier this year and I will continue to work hard and represent all of you on the dais.

***** ELECTION GUIDE ***** 

• Find the Red Bank ballot here.

• Votes may be cast three difference ways: by mail; in-person during an early voting period described below; or in-person on election day at the polling station in the district in which the  voter is registered.

• To vote by mail, see the Monmouth County Clerk’s webpage on how to apply for and submit a mail-in ballot. Voters using vote-by-mail have the option of dropping their ballots off at any designated dropbox in Monmouth County. Red Bank has a box outside the main entrance to borough hall, at 90 Monmouth Street.

The county’s ballot-tracking system allows voters to keep tabs on the status of their mail-in ballots.

Early, in-person voting begins Saturday, October 29, and allows registered voters to cast their ballots, on machines, for a nine-day period leading up to the election. Voters may do so at any of 10 designated polling places in Monmouth County, regardless of the municipality they call home.

The polling place nearest to Red Bank is at the Women’s Club of Little Silver, 111 Church Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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

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

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