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RED BANK: PORTMAN-TRIGGIANO SLATE NAMED

billy-portman-kate-triggiano-062622-500x375-5009769Billy Portman and Kate Triggiano at an event in Riverside Gardens Park last June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

election-2023-220x189-2831214A slate that includes Mayor Billy Portman and Democratic party Chairperson Kate Triggiano will run to initiate Red Bank’s first new form of government in 115 years.

The seven-candidate slate, announced late Sunday, is the first out of the gate in what may be a crowded field in the the May 9 special election.

The slate includes, from left: Ben Forest, Kristina Bonatakis, Nancy Facey-Blackwood, David Cassidy and Laura Jannone (not shown). (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Billing itself as the “Red Bank’s Ready” team and pledging to “focus on strategic goals that avoid the poor outcomes of the past,” the slate includes:

• Portman, the John Street resident and first-time office-seeker who crushed the organization Democratic party’s candidate in last June’s primary and cruised unopposed into the mayor’s office in November. By day, he’s a building contractor.

• Triggiano, of Leighton Avenue, a second-term council member who immediately after the primary gained the leadership of the Democratic organization, ousting fellow Councilmember Ed Zipprich from the post. Active in environmental and human rights issues, she’s also a volunteer firefighter with the West Side Hose Company.

Nancy Facey-Blackwood, of Chestnut Street, who last year chaired the Charter Study Commission, which recommended a change in the government form and switch to nonpartisan elections. A retired telecom systems engineer, Blackwood chairs the Environmental Commission.

Ben Forest, a Locust Avenue activist who served on the five-member Charter Study Commission and is the borough board of education’s longest-serving member, having three times been its president. He’s self-employed in information technology.

David Cassidy, of McLaren Street, documentary filmmaker who serves on the planning board. He volunteers with the fire department, where he’s a captain in the Navesink Hook & Ladder Company, and is completing studies at Seton Hall Law School.

Kristina Bonatakis, of Riverside Avenue, who’s employed as an operations leader at a New Jersey-based technology company. She’s a member of both the planning board and environmental commission.

Laura Jannone, of East Bergen Place, a former practicing nurse and 21-year professor nursing at Monmouth University. In “retirement,” she now teaches nursing online for the City University of New York, according to the announcement.

The slate said Red Bank is  “ready for a new path, for civility and transparency in government, [and] to fulfill its potential as a vibrant regional hub and resilient community.”

In November, voters overwhelmingly approvedreferendum calling for a new, “council-manager” form of government to replace the “mayor-council,” or borough, form July 1, with the mayor and all six council representatives to be decided in a special election May 9.

Citing the “resounding” approval of the referendum, the slate said it would be “focused on implementing strong policy to lead Red Bank forward – not interfering with day-to-day municipal management.”

All six council seats and the mayor’s seat will be at stake.

Because it will be a nonpartisan election, would-be candidates will be able to avoid local Democratic and Republican party machinery and get on the ballot directly by assembling 78 valid petition signatures by March 6. That opens the door to the multiple individuals and slates.

As of Friday afternoon, no petitions had been submitted, Clerk Laura Reinertsen told redbankgreen. It was not immediately clear if the Red Bank’s Ready slate submitted petitions afterward.

Though all seven announced candidates have Democratic affiliations, “under nonpartisan elections, candidates do not run with party affiliations and there are no primary elections,” the Charter Study Commission report said. “The candidates may list a slogan on the ballot that does not exceed six words, though the terms cannot identify party affiliation. They are similar in operation to the non-partisan school board elections.”

As at present, the new mayor would serve a four-year term. Council terms, now at three years, will become four-year stints, though in order to implement staggered elections every two years, four council seats “to be determined by lot” on July 1, would be open in 2025.

Here’s the charter commission’s report, which explained the referendum and its impacts on the election process: Red Bank Charter Study Commission Final Report 071922

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