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RED BANK: VISCOMI Q&A

sue-viscomi-091821-1-500x332-4377838On the ballot May 9: Red Bank council candidate Suzanne Viscomi. (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 Suzanne Viscomi said in response to a questionnaire sent to all by redbankgreen.

Name and age: Suzanne “Sue” Viscomi 46

Street address: 25 Cedar Street, Off Bridge Ave.

Originally bought a house on Arthur Street in 2003, I then rented an apartment for about 2 years at Grandville Towers.  In July of 2017 my wife and I bought a house at 25 Cedar Street.

Where did you grow up? I spent my first 11 months in an orphanage in Ecuador, I was adopted and brought home on 12/23/77 and grew up in Brick Town, NJ.  I call it a town of strip malls. I bought my first home in Red Bank about 20 years ago on Arthur Place.  

Where did you go to high school?  Brick Memorial

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

I attained a BS in Accounting from Rider University in 1999.  I also completed many credits in their graduate program while working in Hightstown NJ.  Once I accepted a job in NYC and commuted from Red Bank I finished up my MBA degree in Accounting in 2009 through the University of Phoenix online program.

Have you served in the military? I have never served, but I have the utmost respect for anyone who has just like my two grandfathers, and my father. I am proud of my niece who currently serving. 

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 20 years

Do you own your home? Yes, with my wife.

What do you do for a living, and who is your employer? Accounting.  I work for Legends Hospitality at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, and I have my own accounting consulting company.   

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

I have worked as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for National Parts Supply, Inc., a company with 11 locations in central NJ. In this role, my primary responsibility was to report all financial activity and support the executive team for nine years. Currently, I work at Monmouth Park, where I am responsible for managing the budget, financial reporting, and cash banks for the cashiers and services.

My job at Monmouth Park is seasonal and extremely flexible, which allows me to easily show up when needed as it is only 15 minutes from town. For many years, I have made it a priority to attend and stream town meetings. I take great pride in my attendance record and my commitment to the Library Board and School Board. With the same level of commitment, I hope to serve Red Bank as a council member.

Over my 20-year career as an accountant, I have managed several teams. Some people enjoy a good movie, but I enjoy reading over a budget. My financial expertise and commitment to public service make me a strong candidate for a council member position in Red Bank.

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

You can see I have been arching and streaming public meeting and events for over 10 years.  You can see most of the video on YouTube channel: S Viscomi

Some of my involvements:
2/15/2011 Appointed to open school board seat

4/15/2011 First video recorded.

4/23/2013 1st video on YouTube (10 years) 

11/5/2013 Won school board election

11/8/2016 Won school board election

1/1/2018   Appointed to the Red Bank Public Library

2/14/2018 Appointed to the Red Bank Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

3/29/2018 Trip to Trenton to support school funding.

11/5/2019 Re-elected to the school board

11/8/2022 Re-elected to the school board

1/4/2023    Re-appointed as a Library Trustee

Your party affiliation, if any: INDEPENDENT 

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

Why are you running for office?

Choosing between needs and wants is difficult. This is a pivotal time for Red Bank to elect a council that will represent the entire town and work together. To navigate toward a positive future, I will use my experiences derived from being a Trustee of the Red Bank Public Library and a school board member of the Red Bank public schools. 

Because I’m running on my own, I can think independently and not be subjected to the position of any party, team, or slate. My grassroots campaign is made up of neighbors in town. People who have seen my actions for over a decade know that it’s not just empty promises while asking people for a vote. 

It is important to note the power of the council is not at stake but keep in mind most, but not all, committees can be reseated when the new government is established. I would like to emphasize that the power of the Zoning board and Planning board is at stake.  

I don’t think ONE slates (party machines) should control everything.  We don’t need a King or a Queen.  I thought the idea was for more individuals to run for office.  Although some may argue that it’s just a matter of semantics, I believe theirs is not difference between a slate and a political party. Have you asked yourself where the slates are made up?  Was there one person asking for people to join, was anyone turned down from a slate?  

I am running on my own because I believe the town should have an alternative, and I hope this election don’t set precedent that you can only with a machine behind you.  

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

This election will set the town and foundation possible for the next 100 years.  I think we need to start with the fundamentals and come up with an agreed process.  Then start taking inventory of the priorities and issues.  We need to learn to work together and not take the negative actions of the current council to the future. 

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 hope it does improve the governance in Red Bank.  First, we need to hire a borough administrator.  I say hope because we see the to slates going back and forth, I hope when this election all shakes out that we can all come together for Red Bank and serve honestly and with respect to all.   

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 it the council has been unnecessarily acrimonious.  I have never been in a meeting at the school board or library board where it got out of control like the council.  I would conduct myself as I have in public.  Trust me we have great debates at the school board meeting but at the end of it we have one goal, to support our school, not one upping each other.  Go to Youtube channel: S Viscomi and see example of the antics.
 

What qualities will you prioritize in selecting a borough administrator?

Experience and someone who understands the importance of communication.  This is a transitional time, and we need someone who can lead. 

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?

Being part of the budgeting process for over 10 years for Red Banks Public Schools and Red Bank Public library, I can honestly say I don’t have an answer.  I would have to see not just the public budget but all the details.  There is always room to do better and I know there will be hard decision a head and I hope to be part of the debate.  My experience will be very useful in tackling the budget. 

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?

NO, that would be lot of money without the optional of raising taxes.  Needs and wants, this question highlights the need of coming up with a plan and prioritizing not just one year out but a few.  

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

The Business Administrator should lead. 

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?

Well what is the cost and does the cost out way the ability to have more open space closer to the water? This project seems to drag on.  I think a plan needs to be updated and conveyed honestly where everything stands today and plan for the future. 

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

No, unless we can prove the land is safe.  As we have seen what happened at Colonia High School with a cancer cluster, we need to put safety first.  

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

No.

We have spent money on bike lanes on Bridge Avenue. but people do not feel safe to use them.  So, the side walk where people walk are shared with bikers.  I think we need to make the road safer.  We have the infrastructure but people need to feel safe to use it. 

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

Let’s see how it works they year.  If on council I will have more data and honest conversation to make a smart decision.  Maybe put a sunset clause in after 3 years just to remind us to take this feature and adjust rates, locations any anything else. 

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

I don’t think 1.7 square miles needs many cannabis retailers, why Red Bank? Why did so many other town say no or have limits of a few.  Sadly, we can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube and business have already invested resources.  I am good with 3 or 4 and see how it goes.  Businesses claim this won’t cost Red Bank anything but let’s see how a few work out and then possible open the door for more.  This council has created so much animosity just like they did with the short-term rental. 

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

This has been debated for hours.  I think this issue would not have gotten out of hand if code was enforced and neighbors communicated when there were issues.  At this point there is so much animosity, I think a fresh and new council could readdress the issue.  

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?

Of course, we all have a wish list, but nothing is free.  

It is also a good idea to assess the status of ongoing projects to determine their progress and identify any potential obstacles that may need to be addressed before moving forward with new initiatives. Example water meters

https://redbankgreen.com/2017/07/red-bank-second-water-meter/

Given the budget constraints, it may be necessary to look for creative funding options such as grants, partnerships with private organizations, or community fundraising initiatives. It may also be necessary to prioritize projects based on their importance and potential impact.

My experience working with the library and school district will undoubtedly be valuable in this process. Drawing on your past experiences, you can identify best practices and potential pitfalls to avoid, ultimately helping to ensure the success of your strategic planning efforts.

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? 

Borough of Red Bank: Master Plan-Page 99

“The height, density, and parking provisions currently in the train station overlay district would remain, but developers would have the ability to achieve height of up to 6 stories and a density of up to 50 units per acre, on a district-wide basis and spread among at least four individual buildings (including buildings existing as of the adoption of this plan). Provisions would also be added for shared parking and maximum parking ratios. In exchange for these development incentives, the Borough could require a range of benefits discussed below, as part of the developer negotiation process.”

This will be an interesting issue to tackle, the goal is to revitalize this transportation hub into a mixed-use neighborhood with a strong residential component.  But if you read the details, at what cost will it be to achieve the goals.  Do we really want a building that is 6 stories and what concession (parking, traffic and infrastructure constraints) are we willing to give.  This is where strong leadership is needed to make good decisions for the future without turning our backs on our Red Bank’s history & cultural characters that we all moved here for.  Strong leadership and community engagement will be important in ensuring that any development strategy is well-informed, and sustainable. 

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

Affordable housing goes beyond Red Bank borders.  New Jersey is expensive and inflation and high interest rates is not helping.  Creating opportunities for new, affordable housing in Red Bank would require a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration with various stakeholders such as developers, non-profit organizations, and community members.

No one is an expert and to be fair there has been some movement on the issue with the bond that was just passed in April to explore possible redevelopment of two subsidized apartments.   I would like to get more information and reach out to the Affordable housing Alliance, it’s always good to work with people who have been down that same road.  It is important to learn what worked and did not work.  It is important to be strategic with money and not just through money at an issue and hope for the best.  

  • Some suggestions to explore:
  • Incentivize developers to build affordable housing
  • Partner with non-profit organizations
  • Explore alternative housing models

Overall, creating affordable housing in Red Bank requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach. By working with developers, non-profit organizations, and the community, the government can create housing solutions that are sustainable, effective, and responsive to the needs of the community.

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?  

When considering which candidate is better for the upcoming election in May, it’s important to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications, experience, and platform. While both candidates may have their pros and cons, it’s important to consider which candidate aligns best with your values and goals for the town. I have had conversations with both candidates, and I am open to working with whomever the town votes for. Ultimately, the decision on which candidate to vote for should be based on careful consideration and research of their positions and past accomplishments.  Look beyond the fluff and look at their actions.  I am disappointed there was not a true debate between the two candidates to see how react to hard questions and there interaction with the audience.  Ironically there is a debate tween the 2 candidates about having or not having a debate. 

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

When considering which candidate is better for the upcoming election in May, it’s important to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications, experience, and platform. While both candidates may have their pros and cons, it’s important to consider which candidate aligns best with your values and goals for the town. I have had conversations with both candidates, and I am open to working with whomever the town votes for. Ultimately, the decision on which candidate to vote for should be based on careful consideration and research of their positions and past accomplishments.  Look beyond the fluff and look at their actions.  I am disappointed there was not a true debate between the two candidates to see how react to hard questions and there interaction with the audience.  Ironically there is a debate tween the 2 candidates about having or not having a debate. 

Please add anything you’d like here:

Go to www.voteviscomi.com

See how much we are spending: 

Go too https://www.njelecefilesearch.com/searchcandidatereports

*****

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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