The council candidates, clockwise from top center, are Mark Taylor, John Jackson, Jonathan Maciel Penney and Angela Mirandi. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
See UPDATE below
By JOHN T. WARD
Republicans went on the offensive in the closing days of the race for two seats on the Red Bank council, to be decided in Tuesday’s election.
GOP mailings included some unexpected characterizations: that their opponents are “MAGA” Democrats who “participated in a Trump-like scheme to overturn” the results of the Democratic primary in June.
The four candidates listened to the rules prior to last month’s West Side Community Group Candidate’s Night. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
Incumbent Democrat Angela Mirandi and running mate John Jackson “WILLINGLY participated in Ed Zipprich’s plot to undermine the democratic process by signing an invalid petition for mayor,” Republican council candidates Mark Taylor and Jonathan Maciel Penney claimed in a flyer sent to prospective voters.
“Why? because they realized our next Mayor Bill Portman would likely win the Democratic primary.”
Portman is running unopposed to succeed four-term Pasquale Menna as mayor. Just hours before the newcomer crushed Councilman Michael Ballard for the nomination, Democrats led by councilman and then-party chairman Ed Zipprich rallied to add Councilwoman Jacqueline Sturdivant as an “independent” candidate in the general election.
The move was aborted within days, however, after allegations that 28 of the 82 signatories to of Sturdivant’s petition filed with the Monmouth County Clerk had previously signed Ballard’s. Under New Jersey law, voters cannot sign more than one candidate’s petition per race.
The flip side of the GOP flyer calls Mirandi “a MAGA Republican donor and registered Republican until 2020, when Councilman Ed Zipprich came calling.” It includes an image that appears to show a smiling Mirandi handing Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina a giant $250 check, as Graham stands next to former president Donald Trump.
Another recent Penney/Taylor mailer paints Mirandi and Jackson as “Zipprich puppets” who “won’t support the Charter Study [Commission] recommendation… because they support more Ed Zipprich chaos.” It shows a doctored photo of Zipprich as a puppetmaster controlling two smiling puppets: Mirandi and Jackson.
The five-member Charter Study Commission, of which Taylor was vice chairman, recommended in July that the borough form of government used for more than a century be overhauled, and that future elections be nonpartisan. Borough voters will decide the matter in a referendum on Tuesday’s ballot.
All six members of the council, as well as the mayor, are Democrats. Mirandi, who was appointed in February to serve through December 31 following the resignation of Erik Yngstrom, is hoping to win a full three-year term. The other seat open in the election is held by Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who decided not to seek re-election after five terms.
By contrast, a mailer sent by the Friends of Mirandi & Jackson for Council touts their three-point plan for “Moving Red Bank Forward” – based on smart growth, financial accountability and quality of life issues – and makes no mention of their opponents.
[UPDATE: After publishing this article, redbankgreen learned of a new mailing to some voters by Mirandi and Jackson that said Penney and Taylor had “a record of fake news and not much else,” and claimed Taylor’s record as a council member included support for a “skynormous parking complex” on White Street. In response, Taylor called the assertions “patently false allegations.”]
redbankgreen asked the Republicans: “For voters averse to personal attacks in politics, can you address why yours take that approach?”
Penney replied: “Our opponents Mirandi and Jackson regularly promote that they are Democrats, so we believe it is essential Democratic voters are informed that they both signed an invalid petition against Democratic nominee Billy Portman. Furthermore, they should know Ms. Mirandi only joined the Democratic Party in 2020 after Councilman Ed Zipprich came knocking. We’re not the only ones bringing light to these issues…plenty of Democrats are, too.”
Here’s how the Democrats responded, via email:
Jackson: “The Republicans’ literature is rife with disinformation. In one, they characterize the petition as someone’s ‘plot’ and ‘scheme’ to ‘undermine the democratic process.’ Absolutely false. The decision to sign was mine and was due to – prior to the primary vote – finding it difficult to support Portman as a mayoral candidate. He clearly had no platform, other than to tout ‘non-partisan.’ He echoed this at the live debate.
In another mailer, they say I was “handed the Democratic nomination.” Again, blatant disregard for fact. After Yngstrom resigned, I was one of three candidates to put my name forward as a candidate. I submitted a formal letter of intent and subsequently was nominated by the Red Bank Municipal Committee, with 14 of 18 votes supporting my candidacy. This is the same process in which Councilwoman/Municipal Chair Triggiano got her nomination in 2018 and Councilwoman Horgan got hers in 2019.
At the virtual debate, Penney whined that I had broken my promise of civility because I brought up Taylor’s council record (100% reasonable in a Council contest). All records speak for themselves—especially Angela Mirandi’s as Councilwoman. To that point, I found it laughable that they put “zero record” on one mailer, knowing that Penney has run three times, dropping out twice, in 2020 and 2021.
What’s sad is that the Republicans claim to be committed to govern with “honor and integrity.” Well, I can only assume they don’t read the opposite side of their own mailers, the polar opposite of integrity. I believe that Red Bank voters know the candidates who will move Red Bank forward—Councilwoman Mirandi and myself.
Mirandi: “Our Republican opponents have brought Red Bank politics to a new low with their name calling, bullying, and despicable mailers filled with lies and hate. Since our opponents have no vision, plan or real platform, they have resorted to mudslinging as their diversion. These mailers speak to their character and integrity as individuals and clearly show what they would bring to Council.
The fact that our opponents are embarrassed to advertise themselves as Republicans and instead say I’m a MAGA Republican is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, I registered as Republican in the early 1980’s growing up in a Republican household at the time. I’ve stated many times, I was not involved in politics and never labeled myself, so I never gave it much thought to change my party as it doesn’t matter in a general election which is when I’ve voted. After the 2016 election, I became more engaged in politics and changed my party to vote in the Democratic primary. My values align with the Democratic Party and I’m proud to be a democrat especially this year. Obviously our opponents are ashamed to be Republicans. I also find it rather hypocritical that our Republican opponents who fully support non-partisan are so fixated on political labeling and stereotyping.
As I’ve stated previously, the obvious total disrespect our opponents have towards women as reflected in their mailers is the reason why this year a woman’s right to make decisions on her own health care is being challenged. Again a reflection of their character and integrity or lack there of. John Jackson and I have a plan to Move Red Bank Forward and our Republican opponents have hate and disinformation.”
***** ELECTION GUIDE *****
• Find the Red Bank ballot here.
• With early in-person voting having concluded November 6, votes may be cast two ways: by mail; 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.
• 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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