RED BANK: GOP APPEARS TO ADD TO ’13 GAIN

Election_2014_Plainrb gop 110414 1Republican Linda Schwabenbauer, left, with state Senator Jennifer Beck and running mate Sean Di Somma, far right, as returns were tallied Tuesday night. Below, Ed Zipprich, seen at right through a ladder at Democratic headquarters with his husband, J.P. Nicolaides and former Mayor Ed McKenna, at left. (Photo above by John T. Ward, below by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

110414 election1One year after narrowly regaining a toehold on Red Bank government, Republicans will soon have a second representative on the six-member council.

Or so it appeared late Tuesday night.

GOP newcomer Linda Schwabenbauer and Democratic incumbent Ed Zipprich were neck-and-neck in the race for two council seats. And though the two parties differed on vote totals, both candidates appeared to have outpolled Zipprich running mate Juanita Lewis by about two dozen votes.

The clear loser, for the second year in a row, was Republican Sean Di Somma, who conceded defeat early in the evening.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, a Democrat, was elected to a third four-year term. He was unopposed on the ballot.

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LIVE: HOUSE RACES ACROSS THE STATE

Beginning shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, NJ Spotlight and NJ News Commons will begin posting results for congressional races across the state. For up-to-the minute results, click on a district; you can zoom in and move the map around.

These results are preliminary as precincts report. The colors on the map indicate which party is leading by district: red for Republicans and blue for Democrats. An asterisk (*) indicates an incumbent.
For results for in the race for U.S. Senate and the statewide ballot questions, click here (Map courtesy of NJ Spotlight and NJ News Commons)

RED BANK: ELECTION DAY 2014

RB 2014 ballotRed Bank voters will choose two council members from among four candidates. (Click to enlarge)

Election_2014_PlainWill voters tick down along party lines? Mix & match?

Election season 2014 culminates Tuesday with four candidates on the ballot for two Red Bank council seats, plus an incumbent mayor running unopposed.

redbankgreen will have results as soon as they’re available after polls close at 8 p.m. Meantime, here’s a refresher on the process.

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RED BANK: Q&A WITH SEAN DI SOMMA

Election_2014_QAdi somma 102814Republican council candidate Sean Di Somma. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In Tuesday’s election for Red Bank council, incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, both Democrats, face Republicans Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer. Here are Di Somma’s answers to questions sent to all four candidates by redbankgreen.

Name: Sean Patrick Di Somma

Age: 32

Where did you grow up? Bergen County, NJ

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? Almost 3 years

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RED BANK: Q&A WITH JUANITA LEWIS

Election_2014_QA juanita lewis 101308Democrat Juanita Lewis has been on the council since 2009. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In Tuesday’s election for Red Bank council, incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, both Democrats, face Republicans Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer. Here are Lewis’s answers to questions sent to all four candidates by redbankgreen.

Name: Juanita Lewis

Age: 48

Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Red Bank.

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? All of my life, except when I went to college, graduate school and when I worked overseas for one year.

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RED BANK: Q&A WITH PASQUALE MENNA

Election_2014_QApasquale menna 102814 2Pasquale Menna, a Democrat, was elected mayor in 2006 after 18 years on the borough council. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In Tuesday’s election, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna is running unopposed for a third four-year-term.Here are his answers to questions sent to all borough candidates by redbankgreen.

Name: Pasquale Menna

Age: 60

Where did you grow up? Italy, Montreal, Canada and Red Bank.

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? Since 1964.

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RED BANK: Q&A WITH LINDA SCHWABENBAUER

Election_2014_QAschwabenbauer 102814Republican council candidate Linda Schwabenbauer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In Tuesday’s election for Red Bank council, incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, both Democrats, face Republicans Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer. Here are Schwabenbauer’s answers to questions sent to all four candidates by redbankgreen.

Name: Linda Schwabenbauer

Age: 49

Where did you grow up? Downingtown, PA

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? Since May of 2005 – just shy of 10 years

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RED BANK: Q&A WITH ED ZIPPRICH

Election_2014_QA zipprich 011111Democrat Ed Zipprich has been on the council since 2009. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In Tuesday’s election for Red Bank council, incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, both Democrats, face Republicans Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer. Here are Zipprich’s answers to questions sent to all four candidates by redbankgreen.

Name: Edward Zipprich

Age: 54

Where did you grow up? In a small town similar to Red Bank in Staten Island, NY

How long have you been a resident of Red Bank? 17.5 years

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RED BANK: GOP CALLS FOR TELE-DEBATE

Election_2014_wDebatesrb candidates 102814 3Republicans Linda Schwabenbauer and Sean Di Somma had a full-house audience at River Street Commons to themselves Tuesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The two Red Bank council candidates challenged the Democratic incumbents to a debate Wednesday, one day after a meet-the-candidates event at which the Dems were no-shows.

GOP contender Sean Di Somma called the absence of Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich “sad and shameful,” adding that they’d “pulled a fast one on Red Bank residents” by canceling at the last minute.

Zipprich told redbankgreen earlier on Tuesday that he was attending to a family medical issue, and Lewis told the Westside Community Group that she couldn’t make their Tuesday event because she was “pulled away on business,” said event moderator Amy Goldsmith.

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RED BANK SCORES IN GAS VALVE BATTLE

An NJNG crew packs it in after being ordered by police to stop work on a nearly completed gas regulator valve replacement on Monmouth Street in October, 2012. Below, a Monmouth Street valve that was struck by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb gas valve 103112Remember the flap over the regulator valves that New Jersey Natural Gas Company moved above-ground along storefronts over the objections of Red Bank officials and merchants two years ago?

They’re unsafe, borough officials said. They’re ugly, too, said business owners and officials at RiverCenter, the downtown promotion agency. Mayor Pasquale Menna called them “monstrous carbuncles” forced upon the town by an “arrogant” utility company.

They’re also illegal, according to a state appellate panel ruing issued Tuesday.

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RED BANK: NO DEBATE AS DEMS ARE NO-SHOWS

Election_2014_wDebatesrb candidates 102814 1The River Street Commons had a full house for the event, hosted by the Westside Community Group. Alecia Wilkerson, below, asked a question from the audience. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb candidates 102814 2The two Republican candidates for Red Bank council in next week’s election had an open field as neither of their opponents showed up for a debate Tuesday night.

Incumbent Democrat Ed Zipprich was out of town on a family medical issue, and fellow incumbent Democrat Juanita Lewis was “called away on business,”  Westside Community Group president and event moderator Amy Goldsmith said the candidates told her.

That gave Republican challengers Sean Di Somma and Linda Schwabenbauer control of the floor at the 18th annual candidates’ night, held as always at the River Street Commons. Di Somma made frequent reference to the absences, and at one point gave away their chairs to audience members who had packed the former school gym.

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RED BANK: DEMS GET PRICKLY OVER BALLOONS

rb gop balloons 101914Legos with legs were among the parade participants who accepted GOP balloons from candidate Linda Schwabenbauer, below. (Photo above by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

schwabenbauer 101914A Menna Administration official and a Republican council candidate clashed at Sunday’s Red Bank Halloween Parade over campaign balloons.

GOP contender Linda Schwabenbauer said she believed she was exercising a First Amendment right and had borough authorization when she gave away about 200 balloons bearing her name and that of running mate Sean Di Somma to children and adults before the start of the parade.

But Parks and Recrecreation department director Memone Crystian told her to stop, threatening to call the police if she continued, she said.

Administration officials dispute the claim that they’d OK’d a balloon distribution, and contend they have the law on their side in asking Schwabenbauer to stop.

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RED BANK: SCHWABENBAUER TO FILL GOP SLOT

linda schwabenbauer 082714Linda Schwabenbauer outside borough hall, where she hopes to win a council seat. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Republicans may not have a mayoral candidate, but they appear to have filled the empty slot on the November ballot for two council seats.

Three months after the shortlived candidacy of Brian Hanlon ended over objections by his employer, political newcomer Linda Schwabenbauer is expected to join local party chair Sean Di Somma in his second consecutive run for council.

Nominally, at least.

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RED BANK: MAYOR WELCOMES SPECIAL GUESTS

imageEight disabled students from the Schroth School in Ocean Township arrived in Red Bank Friday morning for a picnic in Riverside Gardens Park and possibly some shopping downtown. But first, they met with Mayor Pasquale Menna at borough hall, where they gave him with a mug and a cap, and he gave each a signed certificate of achievement. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: COUNCIL OKS HYBRID BULKHEAD

elijah nishiura 072314Red Bank Regional sophomore Elijah Nishiura, center, chats with Environmental Commission chairwoman Laura Bagwell, left, and Carl Alderson, a marine resources specialist at NOAA, after the council voted to restore the rotting library bulkhead, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb lib bulkhead 2 071013A hotly opposed proposal to rebuild the bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library won approval from the borough council Wednesday night, though the new structure may now incorporate elements of a so-called living shoreline favored by environmentalists.

Then again, the matter could be headed to court if the hybrid approach fails appease the library’s next-door neighbors, whose lawyer continued to imply that he’d sue if anything less than an abrupt wall along the library’s Navesink River frontage is constructed.

“The merits of the living shoreline are neither here nor there,” Michael Vitiello, the attorney for the Corinthian Cove condos, told the council before it voted on the issue. “My clients feel that if you remove the bulkhead… we are no longer going to have lateral support for our earth.”

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RED BANK: BULKHEAD REBUILD ON AGENDA

rb lib bulkhead 4 071013Borough residents are on the hook for replacing the library bulkhead, at right, where environmentalists argue a natural shoreline should be restored.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Its scientists and policy experts may be thought leaders on issues of global warming and ways to head it off. But on the matter of the Navesink River bulkhead at the Red Bank Public Library, Harvard University can’t be bothered to speak, it appears.

Harvard’s continued silence almost a year after Mayor Pasquale Menna reached out to the university for help on a legal issue is about to cost Red Bank taxpayers and, environmentalists contend, result in a wrongheaded fix along the shoreline.

A controversial plan to rebuild the crumbling bulkhead, rather than allow for the restoration of a natural shoreline, is expected to move ahead Wednesday night.

It’s time for “finality” on the issue, which involves insurance and liability issues as well as environmental ones, Menna told redbankgreen Monday.

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RED BANK: MINTON RESIGNS, HANLON BAILS

burnham di somma 110513Sean Di Somma, above at lower right, on election night last November. Below, Jack Minton, center, with candidate Joe Mizzi and then-Councilwoman Grace Cangemi in 2010. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

minton 110210Once again, a Red Bank Republican council candidate is in the market for a running mate.

This time, though, Sean Di Somma will also have the title of local party chairman as he goes about finding a replacement.

Fellow candidate Brian Hanlon has dropped out of this year’s race against Democratic incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich, he told redbankgreen Wednesday, because his employer, Oppenheimer, objected.

And party chair Jack Minton is stepping down, in all likelihood to be succeeded by Di Somma when the the party faithful meet for their annual reorganization meeting this weekend.

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RED BANK: BUDGET IN SPOTLIGHT

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bankers with an interest in how much their local government costs them can find out where the money goes at a presentation Thursday night.

That’s when borough hall department heads explain their 2014 funding requests to the public at an annual event inaugurated by Councilman Mike DuPont in 2007.

On the table is the 2014 proposed $21 million spending plan, which town officials said is $218,000 smaller than 2013’s. About $12.6 million of that is to be covered by the local property tax.

Still unknown, however, is what property owners will pay, though preliminary estimates show the owner of a home assessed at the town average – currently estimated at $387,440 – paying $64.77 more this year.

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RED BANK: Di SOMMA TRIES AGAIN

di somma 2 102413Sean Di Somma has paired up with electoral politics newcomer Brian Hanlon for his second council try. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Republican Sean Di Somma is going to try again.

A political novice who last year found himself accused of being a fugitive over a traffic ticket, Di Somma tells redbankgreen he’s running for council again this year.

He’s pairing up with Brian Hanlon to try to take out Democratic incumbents Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich in November’s election.

The Di Somma/Hanlon ticket, though, won’t have a mayoral candidate to oppose Mayor Pasquale Menna, who tells redbankgreen he’s going for a third four-year term.

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RED BANK: PARKING GARAGE BACK ON AGENDA

white-st-lotThe borough plans to hire a consultant to advise it on how to get a garage built, most likely on the site of the White Street municipal lot, says Mayor Menna. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The odds that a new parking garage might be built in downtown Red Bank rose Wednesday night.

The borough council is expected to have specifications ready for approval in two weeks for the hiring of a parking consultant, Mayor Pasquale Menna said in limited comments on the topic during the bimonthly council meeting.

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RED BANK: PAY-TO-PLAY RULES IN PLAY

money-full-columnElected officials would be permitted to vote on applications by their campaign contributors under a law change that’s up for a vote in Red Bank this week.

And the upper limits on what contributors can give politicians would soar to more than six times the current cap.

That’s according to an article in Saturday’s Asbury Park Press.

The proposed changes have baffled state Senator Jen Beck, a former Red Bank who favored an ordinance that went into effect after her tenure. That law would be gutted if the proposed changes are approved, she said.

“This only opens the borough to political influence and corruption,” Beck told Press reporter Larry Higgs. “It’s unclear to me why [Mayor Pasquale Menna] would move in that direction, when he supported” the existing ordinance.

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK BILLIARDS TO REOPEN

lucky break 102113Lucky Break was closed for more than two months as the owner struggled to find a way out of red tape over BYOB rules.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lucky Break Billiards, the Red Bank pool hall that shut itself down after becoming entangled in bureaucratic red tape over beer and wine consumption, will reopen Thursday.

Hall owner James Hertler tells redbankgreen he got the green light to reopen Wednesday from Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“The gist of it was that there was no complaint” by anyone that Hertler could challenge in court, Hertler said Menna told him. “My takeaway was that we’re good to go.”

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK’S SHATTERED DREAM

lucky break 102913James Hertler, below, shut down Lucky Break Billiards in September, a month after police cracked down over BYOB issues. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

james hertler 101813How’s this for an auspicious start for a business?

• In early 2011, in an effort to spice up nightlife, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna spearheads a zoning law change to allow billiards parlors and other entertainment-based businesses to operate downtown.

• Several months later, former Mayor Ed McKenna, as lawyer on a lease for a planned billiards parlor, calls now-deceased police Chief Steve McCarthy to confirm that it could operate as a bring-your-own-beer and wine establishment. McKenna gets an OK, he tells his client, James Hertler, who was in McKenna’s office during the call.

• That October, Hertler goes before the zoning board and wins quick, unanimous approval of his plan for Lucky Break Billiards. Throughout its lengthy resolution of approval, the board notes that Lucky Break will be a BYOB that serves coffee and microwavable snacks and will allow its customers to bring in food from nearby restaurants.

• The following March, Hertler and partner Jeff Regen open Lucky Break at 14 West Front Street, in a space that had been vacant for four years.

• Lucky Break toughs it out for the next 18 months, building a repeat clientele largely based on private parties and edging toward profitability.

• Though it’s located amid a busy cluster of bars, there’s not a single incident requiring a police response at Lucky Break. “We worked hard to be a good neighbor,” said Hertler, a borough resident.

Yet without any change in the pattern described above, guess who abruptly finds himself accused of violating liquor laws – and out of business?

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WHAT TO DO THIS WEEKEND? SO MUCH CHOICE

rb street fair 041413The Red Bank Street Fair late summer edition returns Sunday. The Count Basie Theatre, below, is home to a weekend-long food extravaganza called ‘Appetite.’ (Click to enlarge)

Friday, September 6:

basie marquee 1 090213MIDDLETOWN: The first and third Friday’s of the month mean Teen Art Club at the Middletown Public Library. This twice-monthly teen-led art session requires few tools: a drawing pad and pencil. Teen Art Club begins at 4 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

RED BANK: The Count Basie 365 Cultural Series presents some cool Friday night jazz  to cool down the summer heat in the pocket park at Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard. The concert begins at 7 p.m.

SANDY HOOK: Celebrate the end of summer as the Sandy Hook Foundation presents local caterers, live music and auction items at the End of Summer Party. Proceeds benefit the restoration, maintenance, and education projects of the National Park Service. The farewell to summer runs from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sandy Hook North Beach.

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RED BANK: DI SOMMA TO FILL OUT GOP BALLOT

By JOHN T. WARD

The man behind an eleventh-hour robocalling campaign about a Red Bank bond issue last week is running for borough council, he tells redbankgreen.

Sean Di Somma, right, said local Republican officials plan to file paperwork with the Monmouth County Clerk Thursday making his candidacy official.

The move would again give the GOP two candidates as it tries to break the Democrats’ lock on the governing body, following the sudden departure from the race last month by Republican Suzanne Viscomi.

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