BUILDING THE RANKS OF FEMALE ENGINEERS

jacki flor 041814Jacki Flor on the site of the Sea Bright municipal parking lot reconstruction, which she’s overseeing, and Christine Ballard, giving a presentation in Red Bank below, say their interest in solving mechanical problems was nurtured when they were girls. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

c ballard 52609Of the 565 towns and cities in New Jersey, only 19 have female municipal engineers. And two of them serve towns on the Green: Christine Ballard in Red Bank, and Jaclyn Flor, in Sea Bright.

Municipal engineers are the brains behind public infrastructure, designing everything from crosswalks to sewer lift stations. They pursue grants to pay for ballfields and bulkheads. And they serve as emissaries, navigating the often choppy waters between zoning board applicants, contractors, elected officials and taxpayers.

In that realm, a woman’s point of view and way of communicating can often be helpful, Ballard said.

“There have been a lot of men doing this for a long time, and I’m sure they did it well,” she told redbankgreen. But “there’s been a wonderful transition to women in government,” and it turns out that other women are “sometimes better at translating projects, and why we need to spend a million dollars to fix the water plant,” to diverse constituencies, she said.

In fact, the broader field of engineering could use many more women, which is why the American Association of University Women and the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore are putting on an event at Brookdale Community College on Saturday to encourage girls to consider careers as engineers.

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FAIR HAVEN ADDS FEMALE VOICE IN YEAR 100

Mayor Mike Halfacre swore in new Councilwoman Susan Sorensen, below, at the freshly refurbished Bicentennial Hall, also known as Fisk Chapel. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

[UPDATE and CORRECTION: After this story was published, borough Clerk Allyson Cinquegrana sent us a list of all council members through Fair Haven’s history, which confirms Mayor Mike Halfacre’s comment that two women served on the council after Alison Dale. The most recent was Wendy Jones, in 2004.]

It’s been nearly 14 years, but Fair Haven again has a woman on its governing body – just in time for its second century.

Susan Sorensen, who was elected in November, was sworn in as a member of the borough council Sunday. And the event occurred as the town kicked off one of her pet projects: celebrating its first century as an independent entity.

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