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RED BANK: NONPARTISAN ELECTIONS? NOT YET.

Mike Whelan, center, and Mark Taylor, seen here on the night of their election to the Red Bank council in 2015, spearheaded the referendum effort.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank voters eager to eliminate partisanship from local elections and governance won’t get their wish this year.

A referendum initiative calling for non-partisan elections and a change to the form of local government lost steam over the summer and won’t be on November’s ballot. But its foremost advocates say they’re not giving up.

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RED BANK: FIRST WORKSHOP’S A MARATHON

Instead of taking their usual places on the dais, the mayor and council members sat around a large conference table for the meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council’s first-ever workshop-only meeting proved to be a marathon of matters large and small Wednesday night.

Among the topics discussed at the three-and-a-half-hour session: ways to “deal with the issue” of vehicles parked indefinitely outside the home of an unspecified Bank Street resident, though it was widely understood who that was.

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RED BANK: REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY ON TABLE

Seen here at a council meeting in April, Ken DeRoberts, left, and Joe Hartnett of Government Strategy Group managed borough operations on an interim basis earlier this year. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The authors of a report that called for the creation of a redevelopment agency for downtown Red Bank appear to be on their way to getting a contract to make it happen.

Government Strategy Group would lead the way toward the creation of the agency, chief executive officer Ken DeRoberts said in a presentation at the borough council’s first-ever workshop-only meeting Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL ADDS MONTHLY MEETING

The workshop sessions will be held in the council chambers. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s local-government groupies and gadflies will have another municipal meeting to add to their calendars starting next month.

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RED BANK: BIKE SHARE PLAN IN THE WORKS

Biking in Red Bank —and possibly, Fair Haven and Little Silver — could get a boost under a push to bring a bike-sharing vendor to town. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank officials are exploring the possibility of allowing a bike-share vendor to offer its services in town, and inviting two neighboring towns to get in on the two-wheeled action, Business Administrator Ziad Shehady told the borough council last week.

 

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RED BANK: NEW ‘CLASSIC’ SPRINGS TO LIFE

Runners head down Branch Avenue in the 2015 edition of the George Sheehan Classic, which turned out to be the last. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Three years after the departure of a beloved road race, the new Red Bank Classic 5K sprang to life under cloudless skies Saturday.

The debut running of the race, organized by the Red Bank Business Alliance, attracted more than 1,000 runners, eclipsing the expectations, said RBBA member Angie Courtney.

Were you there, or do you know someone who was? Look for them in redbankgreen‘s photos below. Race results are here.

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RED BANK: NEW ‘CLASSIC’ 5K SET TO RUN

Runners head down Branch Avenue in the 2015 edition of the George Sheehan Classic, which turned out to be the last. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a three-year rest, Red Bank is set to again lace up its running shoes Saturday with the debut of Red Bank Classic, organizers said.

Here’s what you need to know:

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RED BANK: REPORT RIPS TOWN OPERATIONS

A management review found that “at least 12” full-time positions could be eliminated from borough government. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Citing numerous examples of “dysfunctionality,” an unsparing review of Red Bank’s management recommends widespread overhauls, from a new form of government to improved courtroom security.

The Management Enhancement Report, commissioned last October and posted on the borough website Friday, includes insider comments highly critical of the way things work, or don’t work, at borough hall.

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ON THE GREEN: PRIMARY RESULTS

By JOHN T. WARD

Only eleven percent of Monmouth County’s registered voters participated in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republic primaries, with surprise outcomes hard to find on the Greater Red Bank Green.

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RUMSON: EKDAHL RETIRES AS MAYOR

 John Ekdahl, right, with former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna at the groundbreaking last September for an addition to the Count Basie Center for the Arts, where they serve on an advisory board.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After 14 years at the helm of Rumson’s municipal government, John Ekdahl retired as mayor last week.

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RED BANK: NONPARTISAN DRIVE UNDERWAY

Council members Mike Whelan, in white shirt, and Mark Taylor at the Red Bank First kickoff Tuesday night at Red Rock Tap + Grill.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to bust through what they see as political gridlock, two lame-duck Red Bank council members kicked off a petition effort Tuesday night to change both the borough’s form of government and the way in which its officials are elected.

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RED BANK: NONPARTISAN DRIVE TO KICK OFF

Red Bank’s ballots would be free of party lines if a push for nonpartisan elections succeeds.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

To spark debate over whether to make Red Bank’s elections nonpartisan, two lame-duck council members have slated a public-welcome event at a downtown bar next week.

On the agenda: policy discussion, a petition, plus complimentary food and drink.

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RED BANK: ADMINISTRATOR ‘Z,’ ON NEW JOB

Ziad Andrew Shehady in his Springfield office with his dog, Sheeba, in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Ziad Andrew Shehady. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Ziad Andrew Shehady, the incoming borough administrator of Red Bank, has a vision: local government done right, so that it’s viewed as “head and shoulders above” the norm, “like Amazon and Microsoft.

“New York is a great city to go to, and Red Bank is a great town to go to, but nobody looks at the municipal government and says, ‘wow, that is a municipality that is really doing government well,'” Shehady said in a telephone interview with redbankgreen Tuesday afternoon.

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RED BANK: NEW ADMINISTRATOR NAMED

Ziad Andrew Shehady reading to young students in Springfield last month. (Photo courtesy of Ziad Andrew Shehady. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council approved the hiring Wednesday night of a new borough administrator, giving the town’s most powerful unelected job to an Army veteran who became the mayor of a Union County town at the age of 25.

And his salary will be triple that of his predecessor.

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RED BANK: GOP INCUMBENTS WON’T RUN

Mike Whelan, left, and Mark Taylor kicking off their campaign in 2015. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s two remaining Republican council members won’t run for re-election this year, they said late Thursday night.

The bombshell news from first-termers Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan would appear to end a chapter of brief resurgence for the local GOP after having been frozen out of power for a generation.

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FAIR HAVEN: COUNCIL TAKES AIM AT POT, GUNS

Councilman Bob Marchese urged the council to ban recreational pot sales while allowing for medicinal trade. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Mixed in among discussions of yard sales and tree removals at the Fair Haven council’s semimonthly meeting Monday night were two issues of concern statewide and beyond: marijuana and guns.

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RED BANK: VISCOMI ADDS WILD CARD TO RACE

Viscomi serves on the board of ed, where she leads the finance committee, and is on a number of borough committees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The 2018 race for two Red Bank council seats looks like it will have a wild card.

Sue Viscomi, a board of education member and former Republican stalwart who has expressed increasing antipathy in recent years to the local arm of the party, has started gathering signatures for a run as an independent in the November election, she told redbankgreen on Monday.

Her entry would appear to add to the challenge for the two presumptive Republican candidates, already facing the prospect of an anti-Trump backlash in a majority Democrat town, and could eat into support for the two Democrats in the race, both newcomers to elective politics.

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FAIR HAVEN: WALKOUTS GET DETENTION

Fair Haven Superintendent Sean McNeil, seen below at a January event, expressed pride in Knollwood students who walked out, but told them there had to be consequences. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Seventy-two Fair Haven middle school students were ordered to report for detention after participating in a walkout Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of a mass school shooting in Florida.

Meanwhile, just half a mile away, hundreds of Red Bank Regional High students observed the nationwide walkout without penalty. But the fact that they were sequestered within the confines of the school stadium, and surrounded by police, irked at least one student.

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RED BANK: MENNA TOPS TICKET AGAIN

Mayor Pasquale Menna at Riverside Gardens Park in September. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Holding off a challenge by activist Ben Forest, Mayor Pasquale Menna secured the top spot on the Democratic ticket in the November election Sunday.

Menna, going for a fourth four-year term, will be joined by two council contenders seeking their first elective office.

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RED BANK: MUMFORD DROPS PARKING BID

Developer Roger Mumford with a rendering of his proposal last June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One of the two remaining private-sector contenders to redevelop Red Bank’s White Street parking lot has pulled out, citing frustration in dealing with the borough government.

In the process, he left behind a pair of smoking tire tracks.

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RED BANK: DEMS TAP ACTING ADMINISTRATOR

Michael Ballard heads for his seat on the dais after his swearing-in as councilman Monday. Below, Kenneth DeRoberts, a consultant, was named interim administrator through March 31. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Back in control of the Red Bank council, Democrats flexed their muscle Monday on the issue of who will run the day-to-day operations of municipal government now that Stanley Sickels has left the building.

Answer: still to be determined. For the next three months, however, the job of borough administrator will be held by a consultant on local government efficiency.

 

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RED BANK: COUNCIL WRAPS ON BITTER NOTE

At the end of his final meeting on the dais, Stanley Sickels embraces Councilman Mark Taylor as Councilman Mike Whelan looks on. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council ended its 2017 session in acrimony Wednesday night as Republicans accused Democrats of politicizing the replacement of Stanley Sickels as borough administrator.

 

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RED BANK: SICKELS LAUDED FOR ‘COMMITMENT’

Stanley Sickels at Wednesday night’s council meeting, above, and on the scene of a fire in September, 2014, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s mayor and council gave a warm, low-key sendoff to the the borough government’s top unelected official Wednesday night.

Over a career in municipal operations that began in 1979 and spanned numerous paid and volunteer roles, Administrator Stanley Sickels was a “consummate professional” who earned a reputation that went “way beyond the reach of Red Bank,” Mayor Pasquale Menna told the audience at the governing body’s semimonthly meeting.

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