Search Results for: "sharon lee"


Unofficial tallies in the Red Bank Council race indicate that incumbent Sharon Lee and Democratic running mate Kathleen Horgan are winners.


Grace Cangemi appears to have won the one-year spot over Ed Zipprich by 59 votes. But the borough Democrats were holding onto hope of a sweep when an unknown number of absentee and provisional ballots are counted, a process that will still underway as of 10p.

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Councilman Michael DuPont contends that this flier, distributed by Republican Councilman John Curley to Red Bank residents last week, is a smear on his wife. [Click on flier to enlarge]

In a letter to the editor published in the current issue of the Two River Times (print version only), DuPont says the handout — printed on vivid green paper — defames his wife, Doreen, who gave birth to twins earlier this year.

As evidence, Dupont cites the flier’s claim that “Our new Mayor [Pasquale] Menna appointed DuPont and [former Mayor Ed] McKenna’s wife to the Planning Board. How cozy.”

On his first day as mayor in January, Menna nominated Christine McKenna to serve as an alternate member of the planning board for a term that ends Dec. 31. The nomination was part of an omnibus reorganization resolution that included several dozen appointments. Curley voted no on the measure, which was passed by the Democratic majority. Download rb_appointments_10107.pdf

DuPont, however, is not on the planning board and has never been, he says.

Here’s an excerpt from DuPont’s letter:

Councilman Curley, your lime-green letter endorsing your colleagues defames my wife with falsehoods and insinuations. You owe her an apology and the truth to the residents of Red Bank. Your lime-green letter is simply political slime.

But Curley’s handout does not make any mention of DuPont’s spouse, unless it is interpreted as meaning DuPont and McKenna are maried to the same woman.

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Img_7454The somewhat-shuttered playground at Marine Park, as seen last week.

Parks & Rec Director Bob Evans showed up at last night’s borough council session prepared to talk about swing sets, slides and triple-shredded, debarked-woodchip play areas.

Instead, he found himself taken to the woodshed over the closing of the Marine Park playground because of safety concerns three weeks ago.

In particular, Councilman Michael DuPont criticized Evans for failing to notify the governing body that equipment at Count Basie and Marine parks had deteriorated to the point that the equipment has to be replaced.

“I’m a little perturbed that you knew about this back in January,” DuPont said, sounding more than a little perturbed, as Evans stood at a microphone in front of a large audience, apparently caught off guard.

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Img_7126Republicans John Tyler, upper left, and Grace Cangemi draw lots from forum moderator Amy Goldsmith to see who will speak first as Democrats Ed Zipprich, Kathy Horgan and Sharon Lee, all in foreground, look on.

They came, they saw, they spoke in generalities.

Five of the six candidates for Red Bank Borough Council turned out for last night’s candidates forum put together by the West Side Community Group at River Street Commons.

“Overdevelopment” was a concern for several, including Democrat Kathleen Horgan, a member of the Zoning Board who’s seeking her first elective office.

“Educating our children” was high on Republican John Tyler’s agenda.

“Quality of life” was mentioned by most, as were pleas for residents to “get involved” in their neighborhoods and in local issues.

Once in a while, the candidates hinted at what they might actually do if elected — push for police foot patrols, for example, a goal voiced by the sole incumbent among the candidates, Republican Grace Cangemi, who’s running for the remaining year of the unexpired term she was appointed to earlier this year when Kaye Ernst quit and moved away.

For the most part though, while they clearly brought distinct perspectives, the contenders offered little in the way of specific plans of action. Rather, the event proved more an opportunity for voters to size up the candidates as in-the-flesh beings.

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Linda_clarkLinda Clark makes the case for a town center.

The idea of creating a community center at a Red Bank-owned building on the West Side is one that “needs plenty more discussion,” children’s activist David Prown told a crowded Borough Council meeting last night.

Then he proceeded to introduce more than a dozen speakers — including social services providers, volunteers and average Joe residents — who made the case for creating such a center, whether or not it is based in the soon-to-be vacated building at the corner of Drs. Parker Boulevard and Bridge Avenue.

Some invoked the specter of the recent triple homicide in Newark as a warning of what can happen when kids don’t have the kinds of services that a community center can provide.

A woman who volunteers with the Pop Warner football program lamented an absence of activities to engage boys after the season ends. Several speakers said they favored moving the the Parks & Rec Department to the site from its current offices in a trailer on Chestnut Street to boost program visibility and participation, while others envisioned it as a a clearinghouse of sorts for referrals for everything from healthcare to jobseeking.

What was unmistakable in it all was a sense of a void.

“There’s never that one central location where we can all grow,” Linda Clark, of River Street, told the council. “Even if this is not the one, I think we have a lot of people behind you guys to find that one location.”

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Dr. Diana Salvador, above, says yes; Council President Sharon Lee, at right, agrees, but says citizens will have to get behind the idea first.

Kids’ activist David Prown’s request that the Red Bank council put the brakes on a plan to auction off a corner property on the West Side found no takers on the governing body last night.

But it may have sparked a broader discussion about whether the time has come for the borough to build a community center, something it hasn’t had for decades.

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Six weeks after the primary election but well before the real start of this year’s race for Red Bank council, the Republicans have changed their slate.

Leighton Avenue resident John Tyler has replaced Mary Ellen Bannon as one of two party representatives seeking a pair of three-year terms.

Bannon, we hear, stepped down because she’s getting married and the council race was too much additional burden for her to carry. We were unable to locate her for comment.

Tyler and his wife, Krishna, have been in the forefront among West Side residents lobbying for the revocation of Best Liquors’ alcohol distribution license. The store is located two doors down from their home on Leighton Avenue.

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The race is on.

The first press release (that we know of, at least) in this year’s race for Red Bank council has Democrat Ed Zipprich landing the endorsement of Democracy for America, a Burlington, Vt.-based political action committee founded by former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. (Download zipprich_dfa_endorsement.doc)

Zipprich is seeking the one-year unexpired term created with the resignation in January of Kaye Ernst, and will line up againts seat holder Grace Cangemi.

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In a sweeping show of bipartisanship, the Red Bank Borough Council this evening voted not to renew the alcohol distribution license of Best Liquors, the packaged goods store on Leighton Avenue that last year became a hothouse of illegal activity and drew the enduring wrath of its neighbors.

The governing body voted 5-0 against the store on each of six charges that formed the basis of the license hearing. Councilman RJ Bifani, who had an unspecified potential conflict of interest, did not attend hearings in the matter.

Both store owner Sunny Sharma and his antagonists — a group of homeowners living near the intersection of Leighton Ave. and Catherine Street — were surprisingly subdued as the outcome of the case became clear.

The decision not to renew the license, which under normal circumstances would expire June 30, is the first step in what could prove to be a prolonged battle in the courts. Next, the council will draft an resolution to introduce Monday night, at its next regular meeting, calling for the permanent revocation of the store’s liquor license.

A special meeting to vote on the resolution was scheduled for 5p next Thursday. If the measure passes, it would become effective at 11:59p that night.

Store owner Sunny Sharma, however, is expected to appeal to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. According to his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale Jr., a former deputy state attorney general, the store will be permitted to continue selling alcohol during the pendency of the appeal.

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Last time we checked, the overdue Red Bank Public Library renovations were expected to be completed this month or next, following weather-related delays over the winter.

Last night, the borough council approved the opening of a temporary storefront two doors away, at the corner of West Front Street and Maple Avenue, where library patrons will be able to pick up books they’ve arranged to borrow and ask research questions.

The space is being donated by Hovnanian Enterprises and is expected to be up and running “certainly by a week from tonight,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

No mention was made during the council’s session of when the library itself would reopen. It turns out the expectation is now that will occur in July.

And the reason for the delay? It’s what happens when you renovate old buildings, Menna and Council President Sharon Lee said after the meeting.

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Red Bank Councilman R.J. Bifani, a Democrat, won’t seek re-election in November, the Asbury Park Press is reporting.

So Council President Sharon Lee will be joined on the party’s ticket by Kathleen Horgan of Branch Avenue, the Press reports.

Bifani isn’t quoted in the item, and no reason for his decision to step aside is given. The Press says he’s been on council since the early 1990s. He’s currently the council liaison to the Public Works department.

Bifani did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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Mayor Pasquale Menna has concluded that the public is opposed to the continuation of healthcare coverage for elected and appointed officials, and will waive the benefit for himself if the council doesn’t eliminate it.

“If the recommendation by the [council finance] committee is to maintain the benefits, something I don’t think is defensible from a public policy standpoint, I will individually opt out,” Menna told redbankgreen last week.

Led by freshman Councilman Michael DuPont, the finance committee recently began looking into why the benefit was adopted by the borough some 20 years ago, how widespread its use is among New Jersey towns, and what it costs.

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Republican Grace Cangemi’s first two hours as Red Bank’s newest council member Monday night were marked largely by the air of civility that has dominated the governing body’s meetings this year.

“I have a great deal of respect for Mayor [Pasquale] Menna, and I look forward to being part of his administration,” Cangemi said in her opening remarks as she filled the seat left vacant by the January resignation of Kaye Ernst.

“I think we’ve made the right decision, and I think you’ll be a credit to the residents of Red Bank,” Menna replied, as a packed council hearing room looked on.

Later, though, came the first, brief burst of verbal fireworks since Menna took the gavel from his predecessor as mayor, Ed McKenna. And he had to use it, too — not that it did any good.

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How many of Red Bank’s 3,326 homeowners does it take to cover the cost of healthcare insurance for the 23 elected and appointed officials who use it?

+ Thirteen, in the riverside enclave of Hubbard Park, where the average property assessment is $1.19 million. Collectively, the municipal tax receipts (excluding school and county levies) from every house on Hubbard match the $59,400 cost of insuring elected and appointed officials almost exactly.

+ Thirty-eight, going by the proposed townwide average local property tax bill of $1,556, which is based on an average assessment of $404,981 struck earlier this year.

+ Sixty-nine, on Bank Street, where properties are assessed at an average $224,350, according to Monmouth County records. Except that there are only 55 properties on that three-block street. So even after using every penny of local tax paid by Bank Street property owners to cover this cost, the borough still would need to come up with another $12,000.

That’s the math. Whether or not the spending is appropriate is a political matter — and a hot one, it would appear, judging by a flurry of recent comments posted on redbankgreen. (See the comment trails beneath our stories on the budget, the appointment of Grace Cangemi to the council and elsewhere.)

As Mayor-elect late last year, Pasquale Menna appeared to agree that the issue of healthcare benefits for elected officials was worthy of serious reconsideration. But with a new budget moving forward and no changes to the coverage in evidence, the topic has yet to get a full public airing at the council. Where does Menna stand on it today, and what do each of the sitting council members have to say about it?

redbankgreen invites the mayor and council members to post their opinions on this site, just as all readers are encouraged to do the same.

Meantime, what follows is a Q&A with Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels conducted by email late last week in an effort to establish a basic framework of facts. It’s not an exhaustive review of the topic, but rather a starting point.

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The line of succession, it seems, does run pretty much straight to Grace Cangemi.

After losing a close race for the governing body in November, Cangemi will be nominated tomorrow to complete the council term of Kaye Ernst, who quit in January to move to Pennsylvania.

Mayor Pasquale Menna says he’ll nominate Cangemi at a special meeting of the council to be held at noon. He’s informally polled the governing body, and expects approval, he says.

Though Cangemi emerged immediately as the leading candidate to succeed fellow Republican Ernst, Menna said at the time that her selection was not inevitable.

“This is not a monarchy, and Grace is not the crown princess to the abdicated queen,” Menna told redbankgreen, thus giving us an excuse to doctor Cangemi’s photo with a crown.

But the other two names put forth by the local Republican party with Cangemi’s apparently stirred no support among the majority Democrats.

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Red Bank Borough’s somewhat underutilized official website (we’re being diplomatic here) is about to make the great leap into the 21st century.

The Asbury Park Press reports that the site will go live with new features tomorrow.

Among the first items available, the story says, will be the draft budget unveiled Tuesday night and now being whipped into shape for formal introduction Monday night.

That means, we hope, that this is the last day on which we won’t be able to find the meetings of the council itself on the borough’s web calendar.

Also ready for its close-up, reports the Press’ Larry Higgs: the Board of Education website. It, too, will be ready tomorrow.

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Kaye Ernst wants Grace Cangemi to succeed her on the Borough Council.

But will Mayor Pasquale Menna and his Democratic majority risk giving the tailwind of incumbency to a Republican who came within a couple of dozen votes of winning the seat now occupied by Councilman Michael DuPont?

In filling the vacancy, the council gets to choose from three nomimees to be submitted by the local GOP leadership. Like Ernst, Councilman John Curley, the other Republican on the six-member body, has endorsed Cangemi.

Menna, though, is keeping his counsel about the presumed frontrunner for the spot.

“I don’t have a feeling for it,” Menna said Tuesday, when asked for his first-blush reaction to Ernst’s recommendation. “What Kaye Ernst expressed is a personal feeling. We can’t even consider until we get three names from the Republican Committee, and I have no idea whose names they’re going to be submitting.

“This is not a monarchy, and Grace is not the crown princess to the abdicated queen,” Menna said.

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In a move that stunned her council colleagues, Kaye Ernst Monday night announced that she’s resigning and moving to Pennsylvania after little more than a year on the Borough Council.


One of two Republicans on the six-member governing body, Ernst cited personal reasons for her decision, including past mistreatment by unnamed others on the council, taxes that have increased more rapidly than her income, and the needs of her retired parents, with whom she’ll be moving to Lord’s Valley, Pa., in the Poconos.

Ernst said that the political atmosphere at Borough Hall had begun to change for the better since the start of the new year, a turnaround she credited to Mayor Pasquale Menna. Still, she said, her personal circumstances compelled her to sell her house and move out of state.

“You cope with your fate as a matter of choice and not chance,” she said, “and I am making the choice to change my life. I no longer feel that I am able to live the life that I want to in the town that I love so much, and in fact, not in the greatest state in America, which is New Jersey. My parents have offered me their unequivocal love and support throught my life, and it is now my privilege to take care of them.”

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The last time Sharon Lee was quoted in the Asbury Park Press, it was in the context of her work on the Planning Board. She suggested an applicant install an irrigation system to keep the lawn in front of his car dealership green.

That was 15 months ago.

This appears not to be a matter of selective coverage. Even regulars at Red Bank Borough Council meetings might not know the sound of Lee’s voice. Session after session, she sits silent as a sphinx except to record her presence and enter one-word votes. At Monday’s reorganization meeting, she was the only member of the council not to address an audience spilling out of the chambers into the first-floor foyer of Borough Hall.

Which was remarkable given that, at that very meeting, she was named president of the governing body, making history for both her gender and her race.

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Dupont_council_2_2They said all the right things at Monday’s Borough Council reorganization.

Mayor Pat Menna praised Republican Councilman John Curley for having run a “good race” for mayor, and pledged to ‘work together’ with him and the other members of the council.

Democrat Michael DuPont, at far left above, taking his seat as the newest member of the governing body, declared that “the politics of personal destruction will end.”

Curley, seen below left with new Council President Sharon Lee and former Mayor Ed McKenna, said “we do have a new sense of cooperation.” Of Menna, Curley called him “my mayor, and I fall in behind him as the loyal opposition.”

Curley_mckenna_2Will it last? Is the post-McKenna era to be one of bipartisanship and occasional handholding? Or was it all for the sake of the children and clergy present?

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Now winding down a 16-year stint as Mayor of Red Bank, Edward J. McKenna is scheduled to be feted by borough employees at a party scheduled for 5p Monday, Dec. 18, at the Two River Theater.


The event is open to the public. Tickets are $10 each. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Here’s something else to nosh on. redbankgreen sat down recently with McKenna in a conference room of his law firm, McKenna, DuPont, Higgins & Stone, for a look-back and look-forward interview. And he was as sentimental and pungent as ever.

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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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