In the past 40 years I’ve seen lots of elected officials at all levels of government.
I started out in 1980 as a high school intern in the Washington, D.C. office of Democratic Congressman James Howard, who represented the area before current Congressman Frank Pallone. I’ve been a state Assemblyman, a councilman and a municipal attorney — and even a reporter before attending law school. I know the ins and outs of local government in regard to policy, politics and municipal law.
And I can’t think of a better group of local elected officials in my 40 years of experience than the three Asbury Park Councilwomen running for reelection. They are the best. Hands down.
Led by Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, the incumbent council ticket also includes Councilwomen Yvonne Clayton and Eileen Chapman. What’s extraordinary about the three is that they have zero political aspirations beyond Asbury Park, and they’re progressive, pragmatic, smart and empathetic. It’s all about service. There’s no political bullshit. I’ve never seen anything like it.
This is female political empowerment at its finest. Even since the Women’s March movement starting after that idiot got sworn in as President, there’s been a push to empower women in this country. Bring it on. Let women run things for a while — like the next few centuries. The patriarchy has really screwed things up.
Quinn, Clayton and Chapman have done their best to reach across all communities in the city. You see the results with new initiatives on such important issues as affordable housing in which they even brought people to the table who’d been their political adversaries. They try not to exclude anyone. There’s no egos at play here. Or any other nonsense.
The emerging leader in our city’s future is clearly Amy Quinn. Mayor John Moor has done a wonderful job uniting Asbury Park and normalizing what was formerly decades of fractious and destructively divisive politics in the city.
Quinn now has what it takes to be Mayor if Moor doesn’t run in two years. Quinn is the natural to take over. Hopefully, she’ll run well this November and establish herself for that position.
Quinn — a lawyer at the Community Law Health Project in Eatontown assisting the disabled poor with their legal matters — was first elected to the council in 2013. She has developed into a great leader. With a disarming humor — she’s hilarious — I’ve watched Quinn tell crowds of voters the truth, even if it’s not what they want to hear. The response is always respect for treating them like adults by giving it to them straight.
Quinn’s social media skills are excellent, as that’s such an important communications medium now. Her Instagram feed is both public-spirited and a riot. She’s doing a podcast which is informative, lively and funny. As a city resident and homeowner since 1994, this Publisher is personally proud of Quinn and consider her the best elected official at the municipal level I’ve encountered in 40 years of political involvement. She’s that good. This is not an easy city to govern.
Look, there’s people who don’t like Quinn as their council representative, or they may not like Clayton and Chapman.
But my response has always been this: Cut the council some slack. Running the city government in Asbury Park is like performing triage — no municipal government the size of Asbury Park’s faces so many challenging issues. So that’s why it’s been triage — attempting to do their best to prioritize needs and responses.
Understand that any big issue of concern in Asbury Park would be the equivalent of probably the top issue facing other municipal governments around here. In Asbury Park, it’s probably one of the top thirty or forty.
And that was before the pandemic hit. You try handling a city like this during an historic plague that will be talked about hundreds of years from now. I give the council and city manager Donna Vieiro a ton of credit. I know how municipal government works. It’s not easy. You’re legally constrained a lot more than people understand.
Happily, there is something much different about the city council elections this year.
For the first time in our twenty-one year history, the triCityNews is not intervening in the council elections with all journalistic guns blazing. This Publisher is proud of our record: In these past 21 years, every slate of candidates this newspaper backed either won a council majority or all the seats, while every crazy ballot referendum we opposed was defeated.
This year we’ve only published a couple of editorials endorsing Quinn, Clayton and Chapman for reelection to the Council. We did not warn against voting for anyone, as we’ve done in the past. We did not plunge into this election with everything we’ve got. That’s because the four challengers running this year have all conducted themselves honorably so far.
Kerry Butch and Felicia Simmons are running as a team for council. Also in the race are independents Rob McKeon and Arthur Schlossbach. They all have something to offer.
So this year, the triCityNews is not trying to impact the city council election like we’ve done in the past. In fact, for the past year we’ve been editorializing in hope of some normalcy in Asbury Park politics — envisioning the triCityNews writing a couple of positive endorsement editorials while stating that the other council candidates all conducted themselves well and had something to offer voters.
And that’s exactly what’s happened. Sure, it’s a bit boring. And it’s not good for our business. But this is about what’s best for Asbury Park — always our top motivation.
After all, we’re the triCityNews. We’re here to help.