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RED BANK: JACKSON Q&A

john-jackson-091821-2-500x332-9870832On the ballot May 9: Red Bank council candidate John Jackson. (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 John Jackson said in response to a questionnaire sent to all by redbankgreen.

Name: John Jackson

Street address: 133 E Bergen Pl, Red Bank, NJ

Where did you grow up? New Jersey

Where did you go to high school? Queen of Peace High School

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

M.A. Communications, William Paterson University
B.A. Communications, Seton Hall University

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

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 6 years

Do you own your home? Yes

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

I am a freelance Creative Director for a pharmaceutical marketing and advertising global company.

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

Inherent in my job is a need to collaborate with members across multiple disciplines. Ultimately, I work with these many key stakeholders to produce creative material that works across audiences and is a product of that collaboration.

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

In the past, I’ve volunteered with the Buddy Program for GMHC in New York, in which I was paired with a person living with HIV. I also have been a volunteer for years with Rescue Ridge, an animal rescue serving Monmouth and Ocean counties. I have also volunteered with Lunch Break and most recently signed up to be a life coach for their Life Skills Program.

Your party affiliation, if any: Democratic

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

I choose party based on alignment with my personal values. That is especially important today on the national level, given the basic human rights battles we’re fighting. On the local level, it may not play as large a role as in the past since Red Bank has opted for nonpartisan elections (campaigned for by people who are now on a partisan slate). Another way its role feels diminished is when we have a Municipal Chair who does not endorse her own party’s candidates in a general election.

Why are you running for office?

To continue to serve in a leadership position in Red Bank, something I have long wanted to do. Also, since my term was shortened to 6 months due to the change in government, I am running again in hopes of serving a full term.

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

Infrastructure, quality of life issues, and enforcement are some of the most important.

I plan on supporting the restaffing and renovation of the DPU, which is sorely overdue. The majority of which I’m a part has already begun this process by installing new management and beginning to replenish our DPU’s fleet of vehicles,

As Parks & Recreation Chair, I will work with our grant to try to secure funds for both major and minor park renovations, whether it’s Marine Park or the basketball courts at Count Basie fields.

Enforcement has been an ongoing problem, with commercial trucks parking overnight on our streets, and, worse, residents’ claims that cannabis products are already being sold in Red Bank, as stated in a recent council meeting.

This enforcement should be the responsibility of all department heads, and enforced by the incoming B.A. and it should be stated in the B.A.’s job description and/or contract.

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.

It will all depend on the quality of that manager/B.A. They must be neutral and unaffiliated with any political connections in order to objectively run Red Bank’s daily affairs. They must also be held accountable for enforcement on behalf of the department heads who will report to them.

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 feel this year, the collaboration of the council majority has taken a leap forward. Nevertheless, there are still personalities on the council who seem to relish discord and opposition.

What qualities will you prioritize in selecting a borough administrator?

Professionalism, objectivity and accountability.

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?

I feel that the current Finance Chair, Councilmember Mirandi and the CFO have done a great job with the budget and tax rate. This is what comes of having professional, especially in the finance discipline, working on the council.

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?

As Council, it is our responsibility to find ways to make it happen, and with minimal impact to the taxpayer; that is why as Parks & Rec chair, I would pursue grants to fund that project.

That said, our priority has to be resident and municipal employee safety, which means prioritizing the public works facility.

As for the landfill, that is a mandated cleanup and must happen by 2024 for Red Bank to be in compliance.

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

The Borough Administrator with our town’s professionals, eg, engineers.

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?

Given the age of that proposal, it would have to be looked at again to determine its viability and cost, though it could be a solid starting point for any final plan.

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

No, due to the contamination of that site. Unless the NJ DEP provided assurance that the site could be a park, it should be developed for another purpose.

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

In a word, no. Enforcement again is the key here. We need to ensure drivers are held accountable for speeding or unsafe driving and not rely on drivers themselves to self-police, as was suggested by a councilwoman at one meeting.

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

That will remain to be seen after this season. If River Center is able to fully enforce what they agreed to in their proposal this year (eg, with trash cleanup), it could be a possibility. What remains to be worked out is fair rates for the business that do not need to be subsidized by the taxpayers.

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

Yes, I was one of the councilmembers who voted to pass the revision and was a member of the committee who worked with our professionals to draft it.

Under no circumstances should Red Bank have unlimited licenses, which Councilwoman Triggiano supports (she stated in a meeting that she supports the original ordinance, which had no limits on licenses).

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

Again, yes I do as a councilmember who voted to pass it. STRs are commercial endeavors and belong in commercial zones, especially so long as we have challenges to enforcement.

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?

For the immediate future, I feel the town’s priorities are driven by need and urgency, such as with the public works facility, not via the Master plan

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?

Before we would explore any further dense development, I would like to see an analysis of the impact of buildings like the Rail—what is its occupancy rate, how much tax revenue has it generated and what impact has it had on businesses in the immediate vicinity.

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

At the last council meeting, members belonging to the majority introduced a plan to support the Red Bank Housing Authority by assisting in funding senior and affordable housing rehabilitation. This was spearheaded by Michael Ballard, council president and candidate for re-election with Red Bank Together. This plan secured $350,000 for the RBHA to begin planning to upgrade our town’s affordable housing inventory. These funds and plan received a unanimous vote from the Council.

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?

Not at all. As Mr. Hogan has said several times, in the event a conflict arises (which has happened about 3 times in decades), he will recuse himself.

Red Bank residents should also take comfort in the fact that legislative decisions that affect/are affected by the hospital will have the entire governing body voting on them. Mr. Hogan will be one of 7 voting members of the new governing body.

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

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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