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RED BANK: TRIGGIANO Q&A

kate-triggianp-091821-1-500x332-3308648On the ballot May 9: Red Bank council candidate Kate Triggiano. (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 Kate Triggiano said in response to a questionnaire sent to all by redbankgreen.

Name and Age: Kate Triggiano, 35

Street Address: 22 Leighton Avenue

Where did you grow up? Middletown, NJ

Where did you go to high school? Middletown North

If you hold college or graduate degrees, where did you earn them, and in what areas of study? BFA, The School of Visual Arts

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

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

Do you own your home? Yes. We’ve owned our home on Leighton Avenue since my husband and I were 25. Ten years. Love our home and our neighbors, new and old.

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

I currently dedicate all of my time to my Council responsibilities, volunteering, organizing, and raising my 9 year old son, Otto. I worked as a store manager on Broad Street, and after Otto was born basically any job that was compatible schedule-wise with my husband’s job.

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

My work experience is diverse, and much of it is in Red Bank. This makes me particularly suited to serve on council as my experiences connected me to all different people with different needs right here in town. I bring empathy and the understanding of a diverse range of issues to the table always.

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

I’m an active RBFD volunteer firefighter. I also serve as my firehouse’s fundraising committee chair. I serve as Chair of the Red Bank Democratic Party. I am on the Health and Safety Advisory Council of the NJ State Fire Commission, the Red Bank Code Blue Committee, and the Advisory Board of Indie Street Film Festival.

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?

Democrats consistently stand up for diversity, our environment, the well being of our residents, and the sustainability of Red Bank. I am honored to serve as Chair of the Red Bank Democrats and to be affiliated with friends, family, and neighbors who care and act together upon important issues in our town and beyond. The Democratic and Republican parties don’t disappear now that we have local non-partisan races. The parties will continue to support their Senate candidates, Assembly candidates, etc. etc.
There isn’t a separate Red Bank that focuses on up ticket races. Those races remain partisan and we still have to do that work right here. While being a proud member of my party is a part of me, it doesn’t restrict me. I work with anyone and everyone who wants to bring positive progress to Red Bank.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for re-election because I love Red Bank and improving the quality of life for my neighbors and our local community. My goal as an elected official is to ensure that residents know they can reach me at any time with any issue or problem, whether it relates to the Borough or not. I’ve been drawn to the community service aspects of being an elected official – whether through volunteerism or community organizing or trying to solve neighborhood problems. If re-elected, I’d be honored to continue serving my neighbors.

For instance, there was a Red Bank resident who reached out to me with their medical bill for COVID testing, which was supposed to be free. The resident was to be charged zero out of pocket, but the bill was hundreds of dollars. I researched the issue, navigated the provider’s customer service, and connected the resident to the provider, who provided full reimbursement. This led to me discovering many residents who were wrongfully charged, and with a little organizing, we were able to get all residents their reimbursements.

On another occasion, a resident contacted me with concerns for senior citizen safety. I didn’t have an immediate answer, but not long after, I was at a local government conference and learned of a senior lockbox program offered in Princeton. The lockbox allows seniors to give first responders advance permission to enter their home without forcible entry in an emergency situation. We now have such a lockbox program in Red Bank thanks to a thoughtful resident and the responsive government I’ve sought to bring to Red Bank.

The current council majority, running on the Red Bank’s Together slate, have taken steps to prevent me from bringing the ordinances and resolutions to the floor that I have brought forth in the past. (See https://redbankgreen.com/2023/01/red-bank-zipprich-bloc-sets-new-bylaws-010523/) I have stayed dedicated and creative to bring progress on the dais, even while the initiatives our residents are asking for are unsupported and ignored by my five council-mates. In the last couple months, I have ensured our Fire Department received their full budget request, ensured a four way stop will be installed at Leighton and Drs. James Parker, and launched another season of the Broadwalk pedestrian plaza. I continue to build community partnerships even as the current council majority sows division in the community. Their actions are the opposite of the “together” banner they are running under.I am honored to be running with my fellow Red Bankers and Mayor Billy Portman on the “Red Bank’s Ready” team. They are the volunteers on the ground who know our community best, and we will bring the policies, ordinances, and resolutions forward that our residents want to see. Because THAT is a councilperson’s main responsibility- to create sound, enforceable, implementable legislation!

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

After years of a broken system (See Management Enhancement Report, Charter Study report, DPW report), the list of pressing issues facing our town is long, and real. Our municipal facilities, affordable housing, parks, infrastructure, public safety, the list goes on and on. I took the 2018 “Management Enhancement Report” seriously and ensured that the issues it unveiled were addressed. I am proud to be one of the leaders that called for the Charter Study into our form of government, and to have volunteered with the “YES” campaign to change our form of government. NONE of the pressing issues would have ever been addressed properly without addressing the foundation in which the borough operates.

The first step that must be taken July 1st when the council and Mayor are seated and the Council-Manager form of government begins, is to start the search for a full time Manager. No progress on the list of issues will be made without this role being prioritized and respected.

The newly released report on the state of our Department of Public Works reminds me of when the Management Enhancement Report came out. There’s so much work to do but if residents elect myself and the people I am running with for change, we will respect these reports and make sure the changes and support are made and given.

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.

YES. The change in government creates many needed changes:

The Mayor will ALWAYS have a vote, not just in situations where the Council is tied.

The Council will hire a Manager to carry out the directives of the Council and oversee the day to day municipal operations.

Local elections will be every other year, as opposed to every year, creating more time for elected officials and the community to focus on the real work instead of constant local elections.

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. This can be solved by:

Creating spaces for residents to voice their priorities and concerns and to craft legislation that meets their needs. This will prevent meetings from becoming difficult, because the problems will be addressed before they become urgent matters. If The Red Bank’s Ready team is elected, we will hold topic specific town halls, neighborhood meetings that address the needs of micro areas of the borough, and well-organized workshop meetings.

Ending the constant private committee meetings held by the current council majority. Residents elect 6 people to serve on the Council, not expecting 3 person committees to meet in private without minutes of their meetings. In the last few months, we have seen issues such as Short Term Rentals and Cannabis be mishandled as a 3 person code committee drafted the legislation and discussed the issues in private meetings. It also led to council members such as myself being constantly blindsided by the decisions made in this committee. Transparency and open communication will help immensely. The Red Bank’s Ready team wants MORE concrete work done IN public workshop meetings, not before the public meetings in private.

Elect people who do what they say they are going to do, and whose actions match their platform. This year, I’ve sat on the dais and I’ve watched the council majority SAY they support certain initiatives, but their actions are counterproductive to said initiatives. For examples: See the Broadwalk, streateries, funding of the fire department, and the Cannabis ordinance drafted by Councilmembers Mirandi, Jackson, and Ballard, which was unanimously rejected by the Planning Board. The Council Majority says they support these initiatives, but in all of these situations, it took the residents, the fire department, the businesses, the planning board, or myself on the dais standing up to the council majority to do the right thing. Every single issue lately has been like pulling teeth, and that’s because there’s a reluctance of the current council majority to listen and act.
What qualities will you prioritize in selecting a borough administrator?

Our new borough administrator or “Manager” must be empathetic and accessible to residents, must have strong communication and organizational skills, and experience working on large projects and initiatives. If the Red Bank’s Ready team is elected, we are about to enter an exciting, positive, new chapter in Red Bank’s history. Gone will be the dysfunction of the current council majority that is set in the past, and in will be forward thinkers who are READY to work with our professionals, respect chain of command, and READY to hire a Manager who sets the tone and pace for years to come.

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?

There’s always more that can be done. I’d like to see more grants awarded to the borough, especially for our all volunteer Fire Department. Other area municipalities are receiving these grants, and we need our new Manager to prioritize pursuing grant opportunities. I am proud to be a part of the team that created our new borough grants program, which has brought over $1,000,000 into town. These grants help us fund local projects without increasing our taxes.

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?

100 percent and we must. I have not had a single professional tell me that this is not possible. What we need is a team of elected officials and a new Manager that are up to the task.

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

Based on urgency and resident input, the Mayor and Council set their priorities with the Manager, who then has the lead role in the execution of the projects.

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 percent. There was an immense amount of resident input in the plan, and it would be an injustice to the residents if it did not come to fruition. In the plan, the parking was moved to where the tennis courts were because the tennis courts were destroyed by flooding, and putting any of the park’s main elements in that area would be subjecting them to the same sad fate. This also moves the parking AWAY from the river, and creates more recreational space along the water. The replacement parking will be pervious, therefore mitigating runoff into the river. I respect all of the professional and resident input put into this plan and I am dedicated to seeing it through.

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

The cleanup of the site is mandatory, the right thing to do, and will be completed. Whether or not it should be redeveloped as a park is an issue best voted on by the residents via referendum.

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

No, there’s tons of progress to be made. The Complete Streets Policy and Master Plan must be respected and applied by the borough, applicants, the county, or anyone making changes to our streets. I am proud to be running with Nancy Blackwood, who has volunteered her time extensively in this area, and worked directly on the Complete Streets policy. This is a major priority for our team and if elected, we will make sure the Complete Streets policy and Master Plan are respected and implemented and real changes are felt.

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

Yes! I look forward to the changes that will be implemented this Broadwalk season as Rivercenter and the Borough improve upon cleanliness, communal space for dining, and more. Changes to any annual project like this will always be made as it evolves and the borough/ the public/ partners interact with the project and find where it can be improved.

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

Do I support regulating the number of cannabis businesses in Red Bank? YES

Do I support clarifying and strengthening the 2021 cannabis zoning ordinance? YES.

Do I support the specific ordinance that the council majority drafted that I voted NO to and then the Planning Board unanimously rejected? NO.

I am all for regulating the number of cannabis businesses in Red Bank. I also believe the ordinance MUST comply with the Borough Master Plan. The ordinance was drafted by Mirandi, Jackson, and Ballard, and passed by the council majority 5-1. I was the only NO vote. Their ordinance was unanimously rejected by the Planning Board, because it does not comply with the newly adopted Borough Master Plan

It’s shoddy legislation, spot zones arbitrary areas for cannabis businesses to exist, and shows the current council majority’s failure to lead.

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

No, I do not. There was a simple solution to the issue which was to allow owner-occupied short term rentals, and ban new investor owned short term rentals. Instead, the council majority passed an effective ban on short term rentals, including owner- occupied house sharing. In my time on the council, this was the only time I witnessed residents coming to council meetings to say that the council’s actions were threatening their ability to afford to live in Red Bank. We heard from a single mother who makes ends meet by hosting short term guests, we heard from residents who house visiting artists who perform at our theaters, traveling nurses who work in our healthcare system. Once again, it’s shoddy legislation, and it hurt our residents when it could have helped.

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 Master Plan is a document that any time a project is in consideration, should be looked at to see what guidance and ideas it proposes. It is also a guiding document, in that it addresses identified issues in the borough and provides ideas as to how to address them. As I stated earlier, Complete Streets and circulation are a top priority. I also believe addressing the main entrance into our town which currently has two abandoned gas stations is a top priority. We can depend on the guidance and ideas provided in our master plan to positively transform this area.

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 want us to achieve transit village designation. The Transit Village initiative provides clear guidelines on how to make the area around a train station easy to navigate by bike, by foot, and by car. It implements design standards and stresses items such as wider sidewalks, covered bike parking, small parks or plazas being created near the train station, and an overall emphasis on making the transit area welcoming and safe for everyone. The train station is the natural “heart” of the town, and it’s important to improve upon it to make life easier and more pleasant for us all. Other towns who have received Transit Village Designation include Belmar, Long Branch, Asbury Park, and Cranford.

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

Affordable Housing is a major priority and must be supported and expanded on many levels!

Support the housing authority in their redevelopment efforts and encourage an increase in the number of units on existing housing authority properties.

Encourage developers to exceed the number of their fair share units. Any new affordable units should be completely integrated into new projects and have same amenities as all other units in the project.

Give residents the tools and education to be able to keep and stay in their homes.

Apply for grants.

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. It is a conflict of interest, plain and simple.

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

The only concern I have is that Billy’s family gets to see him sometime because he is everywhere! We are so fortunate to have him as our Mayor. In such a short time, he has shown himself to be accessible, responsive, and innovative. He ran on change, he’s making change, and he’s doing it all with a big heart and fresh perspective. We are so fortunate!

Please add anything you’d like here:

Vote by May 9th for Red Bank’s Ready!

*****

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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