RED BANK, NJ: The Red Bank candidates for borough council squared off last night at the River Street Commons, 49 Catherine Street where an estimated audience of sixty attended.

Candidates on the ballot are; Democratic incumbents Kathy Horgan and Erik Yngstrom who are being challenged by Republicans Allison Gregory and Jonathan Penney.  Gregory previously ran for council and Penney is a newcomer to politics.

The debate was moderated by Amy Goldsmith of the Westside Community Group, who did an excellent job clarifying questions from the audience and making sure the candidates adhered to their allotted time.

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The debate began with opening remarks by each candidate and then Goldsmith took questions from the audience.

The first of several questions was about children’s safety at the crosswalks on Shrewsbury Avenue. 

Gregory responded that she had spoken on this topic at several council meetings, and that, “I am not heard, I am not listened to.  I’ve asked for police enforcement, but the council is not taking action.”

“We have received a million-dollar grant from the NJ DOT for Shrewsbury (Avenue) and that will be going into effect very soon.  To say that we’re not doing anything is not true.  It takes a while to get things done (in the government), and you won’t be able to push things a fast as you would like to.” said Horgan.

A resident referenced Management Enhance Review Report, issued in May of 2018 that sited several examples of “dysfunctionality”, and asked the candidates what they thought what are their priorities and what they would do to fix these problems.  To read that report, click HERE.

To watch a video and listen to the question and candidate responses, click HERE.

Several residents brought up what they thought about the overdevelopment of Red Bank, with one asking, “Why have we built up this town so much, with all these apartment buildings, our standard of living now has gone down the tubes.”

Candidate responses:

Penney: “While Red Bank will always be a business hub, we do have to look out for the residents first.”  Penney suggested that he would create a flow chart, “Is this good for the residents?  Yes or no?  We need to take a deep breath when it comes to development.”

Gregory: “I am not in agreement with the VNA building, we’re talking close to 240 units.  We cannot handle the infrastructure to continue going down that route.”

Horgan: “There is a demand for housing.  Red Bank has become a marketing and destination center, a place where people want to come.  By developing, we also stabilize taxes by increasing rateables.”

Yngstrom: “A lot of the projects (being discussed) are outside the council’s purview.  The VNA site we are adding additional housing which is a requirement under the Fair Housing Act.”

Other questions residents asked pertained to gentrification, obtaining grants for the town, Hackensack Meridian buying up property as a non-profit, affordable housing, the legality of drones flying over private property, the use of technology to make government more transparent and responsive,

The debate concluded with the candidates closing remarks.

To see the video of the entire debate, courtesy of Suzann Viscomi, click HERE.

It’s well worth the 90 minutes of your time.

It’s your town, your money being spent and the future of Red Bank.

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