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RED BANK: CASSIDY Q&A

david-cassidy-020623-500x375-7410915On the ballot May 9: Red Bank council candidate David Cassidy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

election-2023_qa-220x189-1779922Red Bank voters will have 13 candidates to choose from when they elect six council members May 9.

Here’s what candidate David Cassidy said in response to a questionnaire sent to all by redbankgreen.

Name and age: David Cassidy (45)

Street address: 79 McLaren Street

Where did you grow up? Ocean Township

Where did you go to high school? Ocean Township High School

If you hold college or graduate degrees, where did you earn them, and in what areas of study?
BS – University of Florida, Telecommunications, Minor in History
MAMC – University of Florida, Documentary Studies, Graduation with Distinction
JD – Seton Hall University – Anticipated Graduation Spring 2024

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

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

15 years. I have a much longer relationship with Red Bank though. My Dad kept his law offices on Broad Street for years. I grew up in the 80s coming with my Dad to his office. He’d pay me $3/hr to pull weeds, pay me in cash, and let me walk downtown. People called it “Dead Bank” then but as a kid, it was the coolest town to me. I went to the little Mall at Monmouth and Broad, Cardcade, and played way too much Ms. PacMan in Mr. Pizza Slice if I wasn’t blowing my time at Hobby Master’s. As I got older, The Bates Lodge was a place that allowed young people to put on shows – I saw so many great bands there. Those experiences stuck with me so that when I wanted to own a home Red Bank was at the top of my list. I’m glad my wife, who is from Kansas, was as excited to move here as me (she wanted a train station and downtown we could walk to – check and check). Anyway, I appreciate the point and question.

Do you own your home?
Yes. But I do not believe home ownership is a pre-qualification for public office.

What do you do for a living, and who is your employer?
I am a documentary producer with Cabin Creek Films and a Professor of Practice with Wake Forest’s graduate Documentary Film Program.

What, if anything, about your work makes you particularly suited to serve as an elected official?
I am a trained to research deeply, listen closely, and ask all the questions needed to reach a conclusion. Further, I have learned to pre-plan, anticipate problems, and to always keep an open mind to changes. I have originated budgets for productions, managed complicated projects from conception to delivery, and lead individuals in the field in highly successful and award winning productions. These leadership skills have translated to all aspects of my life and will do so at the Council as well.

Please tell us about your community involvement efforts, if any.
I am a six-year member of Red Bank’s Planning Board. I recently served on the subcommittee that provided oversight to the authoring of Red Bank’s new Master Plan.

I am a fifteen-year member of the volunteer Fire Department. I am the current Captain of the Hook & Ladder, a member of the Executive Council, and was recently named Red Bank’s 2022 Firefighter of the Year.

Your party affiliation, if any:
Democrat

Is party affiliation important to you? What does it mean to you to be a member of your party?

It is in that I identify most closely with Democratic values. I also do not believe that party is the sole means of defining relationships and I am proud that in the course of my public service I work with people of all parties towards shared common goals in Red Bank’s best interest.

Why are you running for office?
I am running on my service record and with the knowledge that Red Bank needs leadership that puts people over politics. Our current majority has made a political game out of too much in an attempt to gain. This is horrible governance. We need to restore civility to the Council and that begins with a return to transparency and proper process.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and what specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?
Those elected will have a strong hand in hiring the new Business Administrator, this is likely the most important decision facing the next Council. Additionally, I stand to support our first responders proactively, we need to anticipate their needs and respect their service. I believe in smart development and that our Council should have a better understanding of exactions, Red Bank has given a lot of variances with little return for the impact on infrastructure. For instance, we need a new DPW facility, how can future development contribute towards that facility to lessen any impact on taxpayers. We need stronger sustainable policies.

Do you expect the change to a council-manager form of government starting July 1 to improve the governance of Red Bank over the existing borough form? Please explain.
I do. The management study showed that there was too much interference from Council members in the daily running of the Borough. This came to the detriment of efficiency and morale where employees felt they had several bosses. This new form of government does not surrender accountability but it does create a better defined chain of command which is desperately needed according to that assessment.

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

I do. We have a majority that has adhered to block voting to push policy with little transparency to how that policy was reached. We have residents seeking to be heard – allowing someone to speak but tuning them out is not responsive government. Residents feel like they are being talked down to, this is unacceptable. My pledge to Red Bank is simple: I will not promise that you will like my yes/no vote, but you will feel heard and respected in the process wherever I am able.

What qualities will you prioritize in selecting a borough administrator?
Experience and success in management of a community like Red Bank. Further, in the interview process, we should be looking for an individual who can communicate and interact with residents respectfully.

Is Red Bank doing all it can to keep the municipal portion of the tax rate in check? If not, what should be done that is not being done?
We should always strive to keep taxes as low as possible but I think the DPW report just showed that in the push to keep taxes flat, we have cut departments to levels were they aren’t meeting the needs of the community. That report showed DPW needs five more employees. We need to balance reality with fiscal responsibility.

Can Red Bank afford and manage to simultaneously take on the rehabilitation of the municipal public works yard and borough hall; the contamination cleanup at the former landfill; and the redesign of Marine Park?
Red Bank should be seeking to handle all these projects at once through grants. I would not recommend bonding all of these projects in the same year but we should not be throwing in the towel on big projects before they’ve even been started. In the past two years there has been a huge influx of grant funding available to municipalities, we should address these projects specifically and then judge what is and isn’t possible.

Who should have the lead role in guiding large-scale capital projects?

The BA will lead these projects. However, we should be prioritizing those projects deemed most pressing in the current Master Plan. The Master Plan took significant feed from the greater Red Bank community and reflects the residents and Borough’s priorities. It is s guiding document and we should look to it for that purpose.

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?

100%. Increasing green space at the waterfront is a no-brainer to me. Moving parking up the hill to a lesser used area of the park should be done. We can argue about what has happened since Sandy but that is in the past, Marine Park has areas that underutilized when that park should be seen as one of Red Bank’s jewels.

Should the former landfill at the western end of Sunset Avenue be redeveloped as a park?
It needs to be remediated first. After that first step is started, we should take community and stakeholder testimony to determine the best use of that land. Nothing should be determined before thorough testimony is taken and considered.

Is the borough doing enough to encourage and safeguard walking and biking? What additional measures, if any, do you think are needed?
No. We can and have to do better. While campaigning I witness a young person hit by a car on Harding. I was grateful to be in a position to radio for help and keep all parties calm. I recognize that most will say this is an enforcement issue, but RBPD does a good job on enforcement and can’t be everywhere always. We need to encourage enforcement but also look to other means of improving safety. Further education programs, reducing obstructions at corners, and implementing well-marked bike lanes would help.

Should Broadwalk be an annually recurring feature? Should any changes be implemented?
Yes. I continue to have hesitance about it being seven days a week but I will be looking closely at how Rivercenter utilizes those lesser-utilized days to encourage better use of that space as was proposed leading to this years approval.

Do you support the effort to revise the 2021 cannabis zoning ordinance? Why or why not?
Yes. I voted against the original because I felt restrictions should have been defined. A community should define its standards where possible. I do not agree with the current caps on licenses, I feel those were arrived at arbitrarily. Also, as the Planning Board noted, restrictions on locations should be done through overlays, not by streets and distances. This will avoid putting valid businesses in non-compliance.

I have an issue with this ordinance being revised without consideration of those that relied upon it to invest in businesses. The current majority is pulling the rug out from under people that have invested in reliance of that ordinance that was passed in July 2021. I also am uncomfortable with the specific streets which all land in one area of Red Bank, it strikes me as inequitable. We do not need to revise in extremes, there is a way to create barriers from schools while also respecting the reliance interests of those business owners. This is not what is happening with the current ordinances.

Do you support the short-term rental ordinance adopted by the council in February? Why or why not?
No. I support owner-occupied STR’s. Owner-occupied is reasonable and it makes Red Bank affordable for residents that use their homes in that manner. I have yet to hear an explanation as to why the current majority passed such a restrictive ordinance so as to take property rights from those owner-occupied units. It is reasonable for a municipality to regulate but there is such a thing as over-regulation and this ordinance is an example of over-regulation.

Should the council rank the recommendations of the new Master Plan for action? If so, which recommendations would you put at the top of the list?

I do not. It is intended to be a guiding document, if we pre-prescribe priorities we take a narrower-view and pre-determine action that might not be a priority any longer. If I had to direct residents to one aspect of that plan, it is the small area plan at the Northern entry to Red Bank. We really need a better gateway to Red Bank and whatever the Borough can do to incentivize improvements should be examined.

Do you favor a transit village designation for the area around the train station, as recommended in the 2023 Master Plan? Why or why not?
Yes. I support reasonable density around our transit center to encourage public transportation use.

The Rail is an incredible development and perfect example of Adaptive Reuse. First, an existing building was renovated to serve as offices and attach to residential. The architecture and height are attractive. Finally, no new land had to be cleared – the primary structure replaced a strip mall that was in disrepair and disuse. The developer preserved what was reusable and created no new impervious surfaces. Having that at our train station is wonderful.

What if anything should Red Bank’s government do to create opportunities for new, affordable housing?
Red Bank has a housing authority and the first conversation is how can we support their efforts. In NJ, there are roughly 30 affordable units for every 100 persons that qualify. This is a daunting reality but there are things we can do. We are obliged under Mt. Laurel to meet our Fair Share obligation and I understand the Borough is currently assessing if we are in compliance. If elected, this assessment will be reviewed with great deliberation to how we can do better. One of the big solutions is to help keep people in their current homes. I support NJ’s pilot programs that grant tenants a right to counsel. If elected, I would ask the Council to support a letter to the State supporting the expansion of the tenant right to counsel pilots to be universal and statewide. Stable housing is crucial on so many levels, we should support this stability.

All new developments require affordable units. We can encourage the maximum allotment. Further, as a Borough we should mandate that all affordable units are (a) integrated with market rate units and (b) granted the same amenities as market rate units.

Are there any reasons for Red Bank residents to be concerned about Tim Hogan serving as mayor in light of his role as president and chief executive officer of Riverview Medical Center? Why or why not?
Yes. I hold no animosity to Riverview as an institution but we have had on-going litigation. These are nearly-impossible to reconcile. I hesitate at the idea that Red Bank’s largest business should also lead the Borough that houses it. From day one in office Mr. Hogan will need to recuse himself from Borough matters, this isn’t in our best interest.

Are there any reasons for Red Bank residents to be concerned about Billy Portman serving as mayor? Why or why not?

No. Billy is an effective leader. He has quickly shown an ethical approach to leadership and has pledged to take no work in Red Bank to avoid conflicts of interest. This sets the perfect tone for what residents should expect from elected officials. In just a few months Billy has been a leveling-force to a contentious council, he has been present at community functions, and he has taken firm stands when necessary. Personally, his support for the fire department in its recent budget dispute was exactly what I expect from a leader who asks me to trust my health and safety to this community.

Please add anything you’d like here:

*****

ELECTION NOTES

• Find the Red Bank sample ballot here.

• Early, in-person voting will be available at borough hall (90 Monmouth Street) from Friday, May 5, through Sunday, May 7. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. No other polling stations will be open for early, in-person voting.

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

Note that in-person, election day voting for residents of the 1st and 8th districts will take place at borough hall (90 Monmouth Street).

red-bank-voting-district-map-2021-500x320-6021294

• 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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