STATEHOUSE: GOPAL, O’SCANLON SCORE WINS


 Vin Gopal and his 11th-district running mates staked out an island of Democratic blue in a sea of GOP red. (Map by NJSpotlight.com.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Middletown resident Phil Murphy was the clear winner in the 2017 New Jersey gubernatorial race Tuesday, in spite of a chilly reception from his home county.

Meanwhile, Republican state Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank lost her 11th-district statehouse seat to Democrat Vin Gopal, and first-term Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan came up short in his bid for an Assembly seat on Beck’s ticket.

Former Little Silver Councilman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican, held off a challenge to his 13th-district state Senate seat by Middletown Democrat Sean Byrnes, according to results posted by the Monmouth County Clerk.

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RED BANK: BECK BLASTS TRUMP

“There are no ‘very fine’ Nazis or members of the KKK,” said state Senator Jen Beck, seen here at the Mayor’s Ball in 2015. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Republican State Senator Jen Beck on Wednesday joined a chorus of lawmakers condemning President Trump for blaming “both sides” in violent clashes between white-supremacist marchers and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

Beck blasted Trump’s comments as “outrageous,” and called on him to retract and apologize for them.

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RED BANK: WHELAN RUNNING FOR ASSEMBLY

Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan and Ocean Township Deputy Mayor Robert Accera Sr. will anchor a ticket headed by state Senator Jen Beck. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After just 14 months on the Red Bank borough council, Mike Whelan is taking aim at Trenton.

The 25-year-old Republican plans to mount a bid to recapture an 11th-District Assembly seat for his party from first-term incumbents Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling, he told attendees at the GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Freehold Friday.

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ON THE GREEN: BECK, KYRILLOS OPPOSE LINE

rb njt 041014A view north along the North Jersey Coast Line from the Red Bank train station. The proposed JCP&L power line would be strong alongside the railroad right-of-way on poles as tall as 140 feet. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A controversial 10-mile long, high-voltage electricity transmission line that would end in Red Bank is no more welcome today than it was when it was shelved more than two decades ago, two local legislators said Thursday.

State Senators Jen Beck, of Red Bank, and Joe Kyrillos, of Middletown, jointly introduced a trio of resolutions in Trenton aimed at blocking electricity provider JCP&L from building the line.

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RED BANK: BECK SITS OUT TRUMPFEST

jen beck 052715State Senator Jen Beck, seen here with local Republicans in 2015, passed on this week’s Republican National Convention. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainFour months after saying Governor Chris Christie should choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey, Republican State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank is sitting out her party’s national convention this week.

While Christie is in Cleveland carrying water for the prospective GOP nominee, Beck was back home, telling Paul Brubaker of the Backgrounder podcast that she feels “conflicted” about Trump’s ascendance.

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RED BANK: BECK TO CHRISTIE: NJ OR TRUMP

jen beck 012216 3State Senator Jen Beck says the governorship “is more than a full-time job.” Below, Christie in Sea Bright in 2013. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

SB christie 6 082813State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank says it’s time for Governor Chris Christie to choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey.

Adding to the chorus of criticism over Christie’s recent endorsement of Trump, Beck said Christie “cannot continue serving as our governor” if he’s going to be on the campaign trail with him, according to a report by app.com Wednesday afternoon.

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RED BANK: MORE FUNDS COMING, SAYS BECK

jen beck 012216 5Senator Jen Beck addressing a hearing on the charter school proposal at the Red Bank Middle School last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank school district can expect additional funding from Trenton under the latest Christie Administration budget, state Senator Jen Beck said Tuesday afternoon.

How much? It’s unclear, but it won’t be enough to offset the “devastating” impact that a proposed doubling of enrollment by the
Red Bank Charter School
 would have on the district, Beck told redbankgreen.

Morevover, Red Bank won’t be sharing in a new pot of money created by the administration to help districts that host charter schools shoulder costs, Beck said.
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STATE AID BOOST COMES WITH QUESTIONS

c-christieGovernor Chris Christie at a Middletown town hall meeting in January. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Governor Chris Christie’s announcement Wednesday of how he’s apportioning $850 million in aid to school districts was welcome news to superintendents, who last year took axes and scalpels to their budgets when Christie froze funding.

But while any additional funds are welcome, local school leaders say they’re still in the dark over one big question: how are they going to be able to use it?

“We’re still, right now, sort of waiting for additional guidance from the Department of Education how they would like us to proceed with additional funding,” said Jim Stefankiewicz, superintendent of Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver. His school got a whopping 147-percent boost in state aid. “Information from the governor’s office said that they would really like it to be earmaked more for property tax relief, which we are very open to and considering.”

But until official word comes down what the money can be used for, Stefankiewicz, like other leaders, is in a holding pattern.

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BECK CHATS IT UP WITH WESTSIDE GROUP

jen-beckState Senator Jen Beck talked with residents at the West Side Community Group Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For months, Patrick Hussey has looked out from his Catherine Street home and wished for pavement. The asphalt was torn up as part of the Cedar Crossing construction project, he said, and he’s been told by contractors that there’s no plan to repave the section of road until later this year.

“I’m ready to plant a garden right there in the street in front of my house,” Hussey said.

He hasn’t been able to get a straight answer from local officials about when his street will be repaved, he said, so he took his grievance a couple steps higher up the chain Wednesday night, when State Senator Jen Beck visited the Westside Community Group for her first time since serving on the borough council.

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REPORT: BECK TO WED RESTAURATEUR

beck1Twelfth-district state Senator Jen Beck is getting remarried, according to a report by the Auditor in Sunday’s Star-Ledger.

The anonymous columnist reports that he or she “noticed colleagues admiring the diamond sparkler on [Beck’s] left hand after the State of the State address Tuesday.”

Beck told the Sledger that her fiancé, restaurateur Dan Shields, proposed in October, and that the couple have kept their engagement “low-key.”

A 44-year-old Republican, Beck lives in Red Bank with her dog, Scout, according to her online bio. She served two terms on the borough council before winning a seat in the state Assembly in 2005. Two years later, she won the 12th-district spot in the state Senate.

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