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Red Bank led all 623 school districts statewide in Hispanic student enrollment growth from 2000 to 2006, according to a report in today’s Star-Ledger.

An analysis by the state’s largest newspaper found that 57.9 percent of students in the Red Bank schools are today Hispanic, up 32.8 percent in the past six years.

Not coincidentally, Red Bank also led the state in terms of percentage decrease in African-American student enrollment, to 28.3 percent of the total, a drop of 26.7 percent in six years.

In three of the cities cited in the article—Red Bank, New Brunswick and Plainfield—”Hispanic children are actually replacing the black population in the schools,” the Ledger reports.

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A lame-duck councilman in Matawan took the scorched-earth approach to saying goodbye last week, teeing up Mayor Mary Aufseeser as “repugnant,” badmouthing other members of the governing body and likening the town’s political atmosphere to “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with an unseen power broker behind a curtain.


But one person spared Neil Mendelsohn’s ire, according to a report in the Holmdel Independent, was Borough Attorney Pasquale Menna, the Mayor-elect of Red Bank.

From the story:

“Pat Menna, you are wise. You are eloquent. You are so busy,” Mendelsohn said, then asking Menna to please find time to help his town.

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Red Bank Democrats swept the board in Tuesday’s election, led by mayoral candidate and Latin buff Pasquale Menna, who outpolled fellow councilmember John Curley by 101 votes in unofficial tallying to become the first immigrant Italian to win the borough’s top elected post.

Incumbent Councilman Arthur Murphy III won a clear victory over Republican rivals Grace Cangemi and David Pallister. Democrat Michael Dupont, however, won only after a review of absentee and provisional ballots gave him an unofficial 16-vote win to complete his party’s hat trick and preserve the 4-2 council majority.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I just got off the phone with Monmouth County,” an ebullient Mayor Ed McKenna told a crowd of several hundred gathered amid former clothing display racks and busted sheetrock at the former Garmany store on Broad Street. “They have Michael DuPont by a landslide 16 votes!”

The crowd, which had been waiting nearly two hours to find out if DuPont, a law partner to McKenna, would join his running mates on the governing body, erupted. DuPont appeared to weep.

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The final installment of our three-part Q&A with the mayoral candidates has the scholarly Pasquale Menna invoking the Ostrogoths and the combative John Curley backing away from use of the term “flunkies.”

Oh, and we also find out why they want the job that’s been held for the past 16 years by retiring Mayor Ed McKenna, and what they consider Red Bank’s most pressing issue.

Check back at redbankgreen this weekend for our profiles of the candidates.

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How close is next week’s mayoral election in Red Bank looking?

Well, there are no polls that we know of. So redbankgreen devised its own measure.

We call it the Electometer, a count of yard signs touting the candidates: Council President Pasquale Menna, a Democrat; his opponent, Republican Councilman John Curley; and their respective slates.

It’s far from scientific, we know. You can discount or dismiss the results for numerous reasons. But it’s all we’ve got.

So, how’s the race shaping up as we enter the final week? Well, it’s close. Extremely close. But according to the Electometer, if voters from Mechanic Street turn out and pull levers the way they’ve declared themselves in their front yards, the slate that’ll be popping champagne corks next Tuesday night is the one headed by…

… the bald bachelor.

No, not that one. The other one.

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In the second of three excerpts from our interviews with Pasquale Menna and John Curley, the mayoral candidates size each other up.

And, as always, the shadow of Mayor Ed McKenna looms.

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Democratic mayoral candidate Pasquale Menna has acknowledged that mailed campaign literature used to attack his opponent, John Curley, contained made-up newspaper excerpts, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

“It was an error on the campaign’s part. We didn’t do it maliciously, and I’ve apologized on behalf of the campaign,” Menna told the Press’ Larry Higgs. “It should have been put together better.”

But the consultant whose firm designed the ad, Ross Oster of the Oster Group, told the Press that he properly sourced the original Press article, an assertion disputed by an editor at the Press.

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Is Red Bank riding a surge of prosperity, poised to begin spreading its commercial and cultural riches beyond the downtown to the West Side? Or has development run amok, altering the town’s small-town character for the worse, and sticking residents with too much of the tab and aggravation?

These are some of the big issues in this year’s election of a successor to Mayor Ed McKenna, and represent, in broad strokes, the perspectives of the two candidates, council members Pasquale Menna and John Curley.

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“JOHN CURLEY… ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL,” declares a recent campaign mailer sent out by Red Bank Democrats in one of the first attack ads of this year’s mayoral race.


Bearing an image of a pillow on a steering wheel, the mailer takes Republican Councilman and mayoral candidate John Curley to task for his purported responsibilty in the recent Finance Department mess. That’s the one in which former CFO Terence Whalen was replaced following the discovery of lax fiscal controls, and property owners got stuck with a tax increase to cover associated costs.

But the folks involved in writing and editing the mailer may have been asleep at the wheel, too. Or were they perhaps doing some aggressive driving?

The mailer includes anti-Curley excerpts from newspaper articles or editorials that apparently don’t exist.

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They were on their very best behavior.

No candidate cast aspersions at another’s character or profession. No citizen got sucked into a verbal brawl with an elected official or council wannabe.

In fact, no one said much of anything at Wednesday’s “Meet the Candidates Night” that anyone in the audience or on the dais got noticeably worked up about.


Maybe it was the dampening effect of the rain outside, but even on issues that Red Bank residents or their designees normally do get worked up about, there was no hostility.

The whole thing, in fact, could hardly have been more civil if tea and scones had been laid out on the refreshments table instead of coffee and chocolate-chip cookies.

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The Asbury Park Press has an article today on the Red Bank Borough Council’s formation this week of a committee on education and technology, and how Councilman John Curley’s vote on the matter may have backfired against him.


Curley’s was the lone ‘no’ on the vote to create the committee, the brainchild of Council President Pasquale Menna, Curley’s Democratic rival to succeed Ed McKenna as mayor. And Curley’s opposition apparently took McKenna by surprise.

“I was going to put him on [the committee], but he voted no,” McKenna told the Press’ Larry Higgs.

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Another Red Bank Council meeting, another ugly blow-up. And last night’s was a Richter-scale doozie.


As usual, the main event was Mayor Ed McKenna v. Councilman John Curley, but two other council members and a borough resident got into the finger-pointing and shouting.

Through it all, Curley’s opponent in the race to succeed McKenna, Council President Pasquale Menna, stayed on the sidelines before restoring an air of calm to the proceedings.

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It’s on.

With five weeks to go until election day, the race for mayor and two council seats in Red Bank is fully underway, with campaign literature filling mailboxes and the candidates stumping door-to-door. Can the dinner-interruptus phone calls be far behind?

On Saturday, redbankgreen found Republican Councilman and mayoral hopeful John Curley and his running mates—Grace Cangemi and David Pallister—pounding the pavement on the lower East Side near Pinckney Road.

Council President Pasquale Menna, who’s running for mayor, and his Democratic crew—Councilman Arthur Murphy III and council contender Michael DuPont—were out knocking on doors Sunday on the lower West Side.

Voters looking for a head-to-head comparison of the candidates might want to mark the date of Wednesday, Oct. 11 on their calendars.

That night, starting at 7p, the Westside Community Group will hold its 10th annual Candidates Night in the community room of River Street Commons (the former school building at the corner of River Street and Shrewsbury Avenue, now used for senior housing.)

If the event is anything like last year’s, it should be quite a show. And if you add the Southies to the mix, with their ire over soaring taxes, and the Westies, burned up over declining quality-of-life issues, and it’s a must-see.

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At this point, it’s a far cry from Proposition 13, the landmark 1970s effort that resulted in constitutional limits on property-tax increases in California.

And it’s barely a whisper compared to the noise made by the toilet-paper flaunting brigades who turned out in Trenton after Gov. Jim Florio raised the New Jersey sales tax in 1990.

Still, there may be a tax rebellion developing in Red Bank. And it will face its first test of strength next week.

A group of South Street homeowners has been leafletting the borough in recent days in an effort to pack next Monday night’s Borough Council meeting with residents and business owners.

Their message: do something to stop tax increases.

Their aim is to draw a crowd—ideally, one as large as the unexpected throng that jammed the council chambers in July 2005, when the council’s Democratic majority hoped to resurrect dormant plans for a White Street parking garage that would be financed with public funds. That night, a standing-room crowd spilled out of the chambers into the first-floor hallway of the municipal building—and the parking lot plan got shelved.

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A profusion of decals pasted to signs and lampposts on Monmouth Street prompted attorney William Meyer to ask the Borough Council last night if businesses that issue them might be held liable for the cost of removal.

No, says councilman and mayoral candidate Pasquale Menna. He says the borough has twice tried to prosecute issuers, but both times, a municipal court has ruled they can’t be held responsible for the actions of third parties who attach the stickers to public property.

Menna says he’ll investigate if other laws, such as those barring the sale of some spray paints favored by grafitti artists, might be used to deter the slap-happy.

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Our long-distance coverage of the dueling love notes written by kin of both candidates in the race for city judge in Red Bank, Tenn., has not gone unnoticed down in the Volunteer State.

The challenger, Johnny Houston, e-mailed us (click image above to enlarge) last night to explain the role of the fawning missives, which have appeared in recent days in the opinion pages of the Daily Chattanoogan. Houston’s mother and wife have shamlessly weighed in, as have the sister and parents of the incumbent, Judge Gary Disheroon, to tell voters why their boys deserve the judgeship.

“We appreciate your interest in our election skirmish down here,” Houston writes. “Unlike other areas of the country, people down south want to make sure a candidate’s family likes them before wasting a vote. I once heard a voter say (in reference to ANOTHER candidate), ‘If his momma and daddy don’t like him, then why should I?’ “

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