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RED BANK: STURDIVANT Q&A

jacqueline-sturdivant-052522-500x383-6953810On the ballot May 9: Red Bank council candidate Jacqueline Sturdivant. (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 Jacqueline Sturdivant said in response to a questionnaire sent to all by redbankgreen.

Name: Jacqueline Sturdivant

Street address: PO BOX 8255, Red Bank, NJ

Where did you grow up? Northern New Jersey

Where did you go to high school? Union High School

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

•Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
• Master of Science, Systems Engineering, University of Virginia
• Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics and History, Boston College

Have you served in the military? If so, which branch and when?

No, although I admire and respect those who serve our nation.

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank?

I bought my home here in Red Bank Borough over 20 years ago.

Do you own your home? Yes

What do you do for a living, and who is your employer?

As a full-time and independent consultant in the corporate strategy, product management, and leadership development executive with experience in the education and EdTech fields in higher education. I have specialized in the K-12 digital publishing, and telecommunications industries. I have worked on four Continents and lived on two.

I am also a University Trustee of the Board of Directors.
As a strategic leader, I am dedicated to accurate and timely business cases, competitive and marketing analysis, and adhering to best practices for developing new policies, knowledge, content, and data driven product development. Over the course of my career, I have created or expanded products at all my companies generating $1.5 billion in new sales. Highlights of my experience and results include:
• Developed corporate strategy roadmaps at Educational Testing Service, McGraw Hill Education, and LexisNexis
• Managed products and business cases at the College Board, McGraw-Hill Education, GlobalEnglish, LexisNexis, and Lucent Technologies
• Produced 57% revenue increase by partnering with external firms, marketing, and sales to develop, field test, and release new Global Higher Education product for the Asian, European, Latin American markets
• Developed strategies for digital Advanced Placement courses at the College Board and English language assessment products at GlobalEnglish
• Developed SaaS products and implemented Agile methodology at GlobalEnglish, McGraw Hill Education and College Board
Created platforms to develop cloud applications for membership elevation, content development, test submissions, and scoring at IEEE, College Board, McGraw Hill, and ETS
• Identified targets, financial and strategic analysis, and due diligence for acquisitions at McGraw-Hill Education, ETS, and Lucent Technologies
• P&L responsibility ranging from $5 million to 1.5 billion
• Team Leadership and Development:
• Recruited, developed, mentored, and managed 50% team expansion; 200+ professionals
• Created and led cross functional and cultural teams composed of marketing, sales, product and project management, IT, engineering and research in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

What, if anything, about your work makes you particularly suited to serve as an elected official?

As an incumbent Councilmember, I possess knowledge of our municipal government and the inner workings of Borough Hall. I was elected twice in 2021 by defeating Councilman Yassin in the Primary election and was the top vote getter in the November election.. I began my tenure on a three-year term working on what I promised Red Bank voters in presenting a 10-point pledge.

During my 16 months on Council, I have:

• Successfully launched hybrid meetings, ensuring the largest resident participation in Borough meetings both in person and online streaming.
• Collaborated with colleagues to secure full funding for the restoration and repair of the Senior Center.
• Supported careful budgeting and flat tax initiatives to keep Red Bank affordable.
• Led the charge to disband the Redevelopment Agency thus saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
• Brought civility back to council meetings honoring existing civility rules ensuring all residents and business owners are treated with honesty and respect.
• Funded the Red Bank Housing Authority to renovate and increase senior and affordable housing.

Upon re-election, I will complete my pledge in updating/improving Public Works facilities, further increase affordable and veteran housing, refurbish Marine Park and further preserve open space.

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

I am a supporter of Lunch Break and have been a contributing member of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. I supported the effort to save the Senior Center. As a Council member I have engaged with all of the Borough Public Schools, supported and sponsored the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation’s Casino Night fundraising effort and recently attended the first strategic planning session of the Red Bank Charter School. I campaigned for local, county, state, and national Democratic candidates as a volunteer.

As the Education and Technology Chair, I am the first Council member to engage and invite all of the heads of schools to present their state of the school to Mayor and Council. I continue to reach out to the catholic schools, regional high school and Monmouth Day Care Center. I also support the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Committee in spring and summer events.

Your party affiliation, if any:
I was elected on the Monmouth County Democratic line.

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

Party affiliation no longer applies in Red Bank as the voters overwhelmingly voted to eliminate partisan elections on the local level.

I continue to identify with the values of the Democratic party. As a member of the Democratic party on the state and national level, I realize that it is important to support women’s rights, human rights, and the rights of the less fortunate. Women’s health and the rights associated therein are important to me also.

Why are you running for office?

I am running to fulfill my pledge to the people of Red Bank who overwhelmingly elected me the first time to a three-year term. It is unfortunate that that term is being cut short by the referendum results however, I am honorably running to finish what I started.

And I’m running to keep Red Bank viable for all. I was originally attracted to Red Bank because of its diversity and inclusivity. I proudly represent everyone and feel an obligation to continue to do so since a super majority of Red Bank voters selected me the first time.

I am hopeful the voters of Red Bank will re-elect me to finish what I started — to act as a steward for all tax payers and residents.

What are the most pressing issues facing the town, and what specific initiatives can voters expect from you if you are elected?

Quality of life issues continue to be of paramount concern. I want to ensure that the Borough continues to enforce ordinances that effect everyday life of our neighbors. I certainly want to work toward protecting our residential neighborhoods from commercial encroachment.

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.

Time will tell. The selection of the next Borough administrator will be up to the new governing body. I would like to be part of a collaborative and consensus building team to select a talented and dedicated public servant who respects the members of the governing body without taking sides. That individual will be charged with managing our diverse staff and should be laser focused on running Borough operations.

As a business executive, my experience in hiring teammates and leaders was always about adding the best skillsets and human capital to fill positions. The next business administrator will have to work collaboratively with a team to accomplish goals and objectives that will keep Red Bank moving forward in the right direction.

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?

Yes, residents have already witnessed my respectful demeanor on the dais over the course of my first term.

What qualities will you prioritize in selecting a borough administrator?

Competence, Character, Chemistry, Respect, integrity, honesty, collaboration, empathy, and diligence

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?

This question makes me stop to reflect on what happened the year I challenged incumbents Triggiano /Yassin and their over 5% tax increase during the pandemic, which I found troublesome.

Last year, my new colleague, Councilmember Mirandi carefully dissected the facts and figures. We consulted and were in frequent consultation with former budget chair Ballard.

They both have outstanding financial knowledge with budgeting experience that resulted in two consecutive budgets featuring virtually flat taxes.

It is my hope that I will continue to be part of the leadership team that will keep the municipal portion of the Borough’s tax rate flat going forward. Our team, Red Bank Together, consists of business professionals with ample budgeting experience. New Jersey is one of the highest taxed states in the Country and therefore, experience matters.

Our current team has been working hard to ensure that our newly hired CFO works collaboratively with Council members to keep our budget in check. So, I would say, yes – the current team is doing everything possible to keep the municipal tax rate in check. What should be done to ensure this continues is to vote for the Red Bank Together team.

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?

The new government leaders will have to think outside the box to achieve all these future projects. It is my belief that they all can be achieved. Largely, the new Administrator will be charged with managing the tasks delivered to her/him. It will be up to the governing body to support the efforts and help the administration seek and secure funding sources.

It takes a strong, dedicated team willing to collaborate and establish a vision. Then, combine that with a strategic plan with the support of the community and it can be achieved. That is what I offer to the Red Bank Together team as a successful business executive.

Our team would assist in exploring funding sources from both the state and federal governments. We would prioritize our projects based on need and strategically pursue funding, even if funds came in from a public-private partnership. As a resident I saw this happen in the rehabilitation of Count Basie Fields with the turf project. So, again, yes, Red Bank could afford to undertake these projects if the voters elect a team willing to work together and stop throwing up political roadblocks to progress.
If the council were to choose the low hanging fruit in these prospective undertakings, we could realize the creation of pickle ball courts at Marine Park. We have already partnered with the Monmouth Conservation Foundation to assist with Sunset Landfill and its remediation project. Sunset poses the greatest opportunity to perhaps create another source of revenue if we rethink it as the place a solar field could be built with parts of the capped landfill becoming soccer fields or a passive park of sorts. One could help pay for the other.

Our voters need to elect the best team of candidates to keep Red Bank moving forward. Please keep Red Bank Together by voting for the team committed to working together for you.

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

A Borough Administrator working together with the Mayor and an advisory council under the guidance of the borough’s planning, visioning and engineering professionals.

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?

Marine Park is part of our green acres protected property. Why would we want to pave it? The park’s mature sycamore trees give great shade and offer a shady respite to visitors. If I read the Kimley Horn plan correctly, it would remove old trees and replant new ones. The proposed plans to pave the tennis courts falls outside the green acres’ requirements. The porous
pavement doesn’t meet the requirements of the NJ DEP and it requires a tremendous amount of maintenance in order for rainwater to perk properly through it and be absorbed by the ground underneath. Marine Park’s trees should be protected.
It is my understanding that the Kimley Horn proposal comes in around $9+ million. I am confident, with the Red Bank Together team at the helm, this project could be realized for a smaller and more manageable amount.

I certainly support improving Marine Park but since the proposal was put forth, costs have gone up significantly and Red Bank needs to live within its means. We can improve the park, but it will take a team of willing collaborators to achieve that for every resident. We’re better when we work together. Vote Red Bank Together and enable us to help realize the Marine Park goal of an improved waterfront park.

Should the former landfill at the western end of Sunset Avenue be redeveloped as a park?

Residents have already expressed concern about using this contaminated place for recreation. The Borough is legally required under the direction of the NJDEP to cap the site. I am not in favor of creating a potentially deadly health and safety disaster for the West side residents.

Once the cap is completed after a full assessment of the toxicity levels, we can determine IF the area can ever be environmentally safe.

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

In an old town like Red Bank, roads were initially designed for horse and carriage. While our development in the 19th and 20th century took place around these old roadways, our 21st century approach should be to adaptively reuse them in a hybrid, user friendly way. We may be able to “share the road” or close the road like we are doing with the Broadwalk and create a pedestrian friendly environment that is inviting. In the meantime, sharrows have been implemented to encourage sharing the road with cyclists. Our bicycle and pedestrian plan needs to be updated and I would encourage the planning board to review the existing plan and update it with newer ideas for safe routes to school and transit.

Should Broadwalk be an annually recurring feature? Should any changes be implemented?

As many are aware, the bollards that the former Business Administrator insisted be purchased and installed have serious mechanical flaws. Before any changes are made, or decisions rendered, the Borough should ensure that the public safety is paramount. As the town continues to work with the manufacturer on repair and replacement and once safety is guaranteed, then the council should entertain passing legislation to permit the annual recurrence. Safety of the public should dictate before becoming law.

Do you support the effort to revise the 2021 cannabis zoning ordinance? Why or why not?

The original ordinance of 2021 was poorly drafted by a former borough contractor in a new area of law. In 2021 the then majority council rushed through a decision without any due diligence and without rules or plans for implementation. The revisions were necessary according to the Director of Community Development as the ordinance created issues before the Board of Adjustment. It was at the insistence of the Director that the Council undertook the reconsideration of the zoning ordinance. I supported the modifications to promote this new business opportunity as governed by the recommendations made in the newly published Master Plan. By doing so, we will keep the encroachment out of residential neighborhoods.

This method will help the Borough effectively manage the rollout of a new type of retail business. It will also address the safety of our schools, places of worship and our neighborhoods.

Do you support the short-term rental ordinance adopted by the council in February? Why or why not?

Yes, preserving residential neighborhoods from commercialization is an important quality of life issue addressed by this ordinance. The overwhelming majority of our residents do not want STRs in the residential zones.

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?

The plan is a tool for making decisions for the future and long term financial planning. Some or my priorities are neighborhoods, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse of buildings.

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?

Governor Christie downgraded the need for transit village designation while he was in office.

Governor Murphy has brought it back. He also designated the west side of Red Bank as an opportunity zone, which means more density and further growth. Historically, Red Bank designated the train station area as a transit overlay district to make it more compliant with and for redevelopment. A fair portion of that redevelopment effort was realized recently with The Rail development, built by Denholtz Properties, with private parking. Another development on Monmouth Street increased the number of apartment dwellings when an old office building was permitted to convert and expand to residential units backing up to the Two River Theater parking lot. Both projects increased residential dwelling with private parking garages in the train station area. Vehicles are still included in these projects and parking availability is limited to the public.

Our aging infrastructure is an afterthought and public services are taken for granted by our land use boards and developers alike. While I appreciate the effort to consider transit village designation, of what benefit or detriment will it bring to our 1.8 square mile town? These are the questions coming to mind as I contemplate another application for it.

Transit village designation has been sought by the Borough in the past and Red Bank was turned down. While the new master plan encourages application once again, which borough agency/professional is doing the evaluation on traffic circulation, parking, public utilities consumption, public services and emergency services required? With the potential of adding hundreds of new residences to our already built out town, I am uncertain as to whether Red Bank Borough can sustain such vast growth without constricting the rest of our community and our tertiary highways.

What if anything should Red Bank’s government do to create opportunities for new, affordable housing?

As we just demonstrated at the last council meeting, the majority voted to support the Red Bank Housing Authority by assisting in funding senior and affordable housing rehabilitation. Council President Ballard led the charge as liaison to the RBHA and put his business acumen into collaborating with his council colleagues, even the one in minority, to unanimously pass legislation to fund public affordable housing. I was proud to cast my affirmative vote for this funding and would like to participate in future efforts to help create new opportunities for affordable housing for young people, seniors, veterans, and those with special abilities.

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?

No. Mr. Hogan has repeatedly stated that his is running as a 20+ year resident of Red Bank, not as an employee of a hospital. Therefore, there is no reason to be concerned. Hogan is a senior executive who can discern between right and wrong and would not compromise his position as Mayor nor as president of the town’s largest employer. Tim Hogan is a man of integrity and not some political hack, as some members of the opposition seem to portray him. He is willing to pull Red Bank together, not divide it.

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

Mayor Portman is political on the dais and caters to supporters while ignoring the town’s population as a whole. It appears he is aligned with only one member of the governing body and does not engage with the entire body politic to effectively lead. He needs to learn to work together and collaborate with those on a different aisle.
Mayor Portman is unable to effectively lead a council meeting and does not utilize the Roberts Rules of Order. He has not disclosed many conflicts of interest that influence his decisions.
Governmental business meetings should not run for more than 4 hours allowing people to run amuck on topics disassociated with the scheduled agenda.

Please add anything you’d like here:

Thank you for a very thorough and thought producing line of questioning. Vote for the Red Bank Together team. We are better when we work together.

Here is another point Red Bank Borough should be mindful of when it comes to circulation in and around our town:
“We all use our circulation system to get around.
Inside buildings we use corridors, walkways, hallways and other passageways to circulate, including ramps, steps, staircases and elevators for vertical circulation.
Outside buildings we use sidewalks, trails, walkways, alleys, lanes, paths, bicycle lanes, streets, roads, drives, circles, ways, boulevards, allies, places, walks, avenues, parkways, turnpikes, expressways, thoroughfares and throughways.
Our rich vocabulary describes the varied nature of our circulation system, with which we are constantly in contact.
We all rely to some extent on our circulation systems to go about with our lives. How we navigate these systems, how much time we spend using them and the types of experiences we have while using them can have profound implications in terms of our wellbeing and quality of life.”
https://www.state.nj.us/state/planning/assets/docs/localcirculation.pdf

*****

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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