RED BANK: DEMS DUMP MENNA FOR BALLARD
Michael Ballard and Ed Zipprich in 2015; Mayor Pasquale Menna is visible in the background. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Dropping a party stalwart after more than three decades in office, Democratic Red Bank regulars nominated Councilman Michael Ballard as their mayoral candidate on Wednesday.
The move revealed new depths of a bitter split with 16-year-old incumbent mayor Pasquale Menna, who said redbankgreen that the party committee members had shown “their true colors” with their decision.
Mayor Pasquale Menna and Michael Ballard celebrate Ballard’s 2017 council election. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
Ballard, a second-term council member closely allied with party chairman and fellow councilman Ed Zipprich, edged out Menna in the vote of local county committee members representing the borough’s nine electoral districts.
In a prepared statement, Ballard, of East Bergen Place, said he was “deeply humbled and honored to be the choice of our duly elected Democratic Red Bank County Committee.
“Throughout my life, as a representative of the postal service union, as a member of the school board and as a member of the council, I have dedicated myself to speaking on behalf of people and advancing their vision. I pledge to continue to do whatever it takes to make our residents feel heard and proud,” the statement read.
Mena said redbankgreen:
Michael Ballard is the choice of the local Party’s 18-person selection club for mayor. Last night’s result was fully expected and not a surprise. The majority of the members of the committee are totally subservient to the municipal Democratic boss.
I went from counting votes to meeting with the Charter Commission to discuss what I hope will be the future of Red Bank.
I will keep my options open [about a potential primary challenge].
The best advice former Councilman DuPont gave me was “if you want a friend in politics, get a dog.” I did it. I have trusted the members of the committee for decades. I am grateful to have forced them to vote to see their true colors.
Menna, from River Road, grew up in Red Bank after emigrating with her parents from Italy, via Canada. As a lawyer in the 1980s, he became active in housing issues before serving 18 years on the borough council. He was elected to succeed Ed McKenna as mayor in 2006.
In recent years, the all-Democratic council has been bitterly divided. Menna has often been at odds with the Zipprich-Ballard faction, which now has a 4-2 majority with the recent additions of Jacqueline Sturdivant (by election) and Angela Mirandi (by nomination to fill a vacancy).
In the minority are advisers Kathy Horgan and Kate Triggiano, with whom Menna frequently sides.
The seats held by Horgan and Mirandi will be on the ballot in November; Mirandi and John Jackson won local committee approval on Wednesday.
At the charter review committee meeting on Wednesday night, Menna said city government isn’t functioning as well as it once did, largely because of ‘interference’ in the day-to-day operations of city hall. of borough by members of the council whom he did not appoint.
He also said the local Republican organization’s “self-immolation” had given regular Democrats too much leeway and endorsed a call for nonpartisan elections.
The GOP has not fielded a council candidate in the past two elections, and Menna has run uncontested for his past two victories.
“You have a party running everything, and you have a president running that party,” he told the commission.
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