Baby Boomers and cannabis, maternal journaling, poets like Springsteen…it’s just another week at words! bookstore

Baby Boomers and cannabis, maternal journaling, poets like Springsteen…it’s just another week at words! bookstore

Over at the TriCityNews, we’ve been writing a lot about the transition of the popular Words! bookstore on Cookman Avenue into the community-owned Asbury Book Cooperative. That’s scheduled to begin in May.

Independent local bookstores in vibrant progressive areas serve an integral role in the community beyond just selling books. They become civic gathering places, where people come together face-to-face. That means they’ll be more civilized than their encounters in the virtual jungle of social media.

A big part of the local bookstore is the programs and events they offer. Words! has become known for theirs and the Asbury Book Cooperative will expand even beyond that. Liza Minno Bloom, currently the manager at Words! (above left with words! co-owner Jan Sparrow), is heading up the project to transition to the Asbury Book Cooperative. Yesterday, she sent us a list of four events scheduled for next week at words! starting on Sunday, Jan. 12.

They include a discussion of baby boomers and cannabis, maternal journaling and writing Bruce Springsteen-inspired poetry. And that’s just one week of programs. More descriptions and times for the events are listed below. Words! is located at 623 Cookman Avenue.

But first allow us a quick plug for the Asbury Book Cooperative!

Asbury Book Cooperative members will be buy membership shares in the cooperative ranging from $50 to $250 per year. The various levels of membership come with all different types of discounts and benefits. Join now to help them get going. The discounts and benefits offered will with membership be honored now at words! until the Asbury Book Cooperative launches in May. Your membership share will start at that launch.

In only two months, 125 people have signed up for memberships — a great early sign of community support as the goal is 400 members. Click here for more information about the Asbury Book Cooperative.

Ok, that concludes our public service message for the Asbury Book Cooperative! Here’s the list of upcoming events at words!:

Story Time for Kids at words! with Stephanie Sommerlad-Bello Author of Trinket — Sunday 1/12 11am-12pm

All kids are welcome with a caretaker. Free! Books for sale. Content geared towards kids under 5.

Click here for more information about this event.

Conversation on Boomers and Cannabis w/ Patricia Patton — Monday 1/13 6pm-8pm

According to some data sources, U.S. cannabis sales from consumers 55 years or older increased by 50% since 2015. Among this consumer group, baby boomers account for 29% of medical marijuana sales and a quarter of all sales.

The impact of medical marijuana use on the health of aging adults is not widely discussed, partly because much is unknown and partly because of the stigmas associated with the plant.

Join us for an open discussion about medical cannabis no matter whether you consider yourself a midlifer, baby boomer, senior, elder or simply an ally.

Event is free but please RSVP to cannaboomer@gmail.com. Click here for more information about this event.

Maternal Journal at words! — Tuesday 1/14 7pm-9pm

Local doula Mary Sefcheck will host a Maternal Journal group at words! the second Tuesday of each month. The group holds space for new parents and pregnant people to create art together and process the experiences of birth/parenthood. Invite your friends! $10 suggested donation. No one turned away for lack of funds. All supplies will be provided. There will be snacks. Email philomenabirth@gmail.com with questions.

Click here for more information about this event

Tunnel of Love Poetry Workshop — Thursday 1/16 6pm-8pm

A workshop led by Poet BJ Ward and sponsored by The Monmouth County Historical Association.  Join us for this workshop and write your own Bruce Springsteen inspired poetry! This is a unique workshop where you get to bring your inner creativity out for the night and become a poet for the evening.

Click here for more information about this event.

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Coaster newspaper: Vote NO on all three Asbury ballot questions

Coaster newspaper: Vote NO on all three Asbury ballot questions

The Coaster newspaper is calling for a NO vote on all three Asbury Park ballot questions.

An editorial in the paper’s November 1 edition opposes the ballot questions to split the city into three wards, change elections to partisan and allow investors to buy the city’s housing stock to use solely for short-term airbnb-type rentals. (Resident homeowners are currently allowed to do such rentals. Investors are not.)

In opposing the ballot question to split the city into three wards with a councilperson representing each, the Coaster editorial stated:

“We believe the city is too small for a ward system. Such a system would pit neighborhood against neighborhood. It would create a divisive atmosphere in the city and would make it difficult for decision-making for the good of the entire city. We urge residents to vote no.”

In opposing the ballot question to switch the city’s elections from non-partisan to partisan, the Coaster editorial stated:

“Currently candidates run for council seats without party affiliation. Changing to a partisan form would allow for members of the major parties in other sections of the state to possibly influence who runs for office in the city. There is no place for partisan politics in local government. We urge residents to vote no.”

The third ballot question, which the paper also opposes, would allow investors to buy the city’s housing stock and convert properties solely into short-term airbnb-type rentals. The city currently allows residents and grandfathered-in second homeowners to do such short term rentals. The current ordinance, however, bans investor-owned short term airbnb-type rentals. The third ballot question would give the green light to investors to do so. In opposing this ballot question, the Coaster editorial stated: “We believe this proposal would take away much of the sense of community by allowing a revolving door of tenants instead of year round homeowners.”

The Coaster editorial also endorsed Mayor John Moor and Councilman Jesse Kendle for reelection.

 

Asbury Park nightmare: Divisive wards, machine politics and investor-owned airbnb housing run amok.

(The following appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of the triCityNews in Dan Jacobson’s Message from the Publisher):

There are three ridiculous questions on the ballot in Asbury Park, and if they pass it could be a nightmare for our city.

I don’t even know where to begin.

How about picturing what happens if they all pass:

Our city will be ripped apart into three wards, with a council person each, which means no incentive for unity or broad policymaking whatsoever. Only two council members will be elected citywide. I’ve never seen such a thing in a town as small as ours. Oh, by the way, if this passes the whole council has to run again next year — the real motivation of the political faction who got this on the ballot. They’ve lost 13 of the last 13 council seats they’ve contested.

In addition, the council elections will become partisan with the Democratic Party nominating the candidates who will win in overwhelmingly Democratic Asbury Park. That’s the definition of machine politics. Currently, council candidates run in one column with no party affiliation. Instead, a handful of people in our local Democratic Party will decide who runs Asbury Park, meaning vicious fights will break out for control of the party — and thus control of our city.

Even current Asbury Park Democratic Chairman Joe Grillo thinks it’s nuts. This ballot question is brought to you by the same crew behind the ward ballot question. Publicly, they say wards will enfranchise people. What phonies — there’s nothing more disenfranchising than machine politics, which this group obviously sees as their way to power since they can’t win an election the old-fashioned way: by getting a majority of their fellow citizens to vote for them.

Stop the nightmare! Vote NO!

Stop the nightmare! Vote NO!

And in the midst of this chaos, a different group got enough signatures on a petition for a ballot question giving the green light for investors to come into Asbury Park, buy up homes and rental properties, and convert them solely into airbnb-type short term rentals. No one benefits from that — except the investors themselves.

That’s completely different from a resident doing airbnb-type rentals in their home to make some extra money. Everyone supports that, and it’s allowed. Instead, this ballot question will dump a huge problem on Asbury Park — investors buying up properties solely for these short-term rentals, a problem cities worldwide are combatting. Right now that’s banned in Asbury Park.

Rents and housing prices are on the rise in Asbury Park. Pushing them up even higher by opening the floodgates to investors to buy housing solely for airbnb-type rentals is absurd. There is no public policy justification for this — absolutely none. Those in favor trying to claim some noble purpose have a lot of nerve.

Investor-owned airbnb housing takes away year round rentals for residents, drives up housing costs, changes the character of neighborhoods, and increases the risk of rowdiness by those staying in these places for a few days since the investors don’t live there themselves. What’s the upside of that?

This is about making money. Period. Let’s call it for what it is. Sure, there’s nothing illegal about that in this country. But let’s not act like this investor-owned airbnb ballot question is about anything else. It’s not.

Oh, I’ve heard those in favor say the current ban on investor-owned airbnb housing is a violation of property rights. They sound like the Koch brothers. I’d love to change the zoning where these born-again property rights advocates live in a way that would allow something nearby that would make them go ballistic — let’s see how their sudden zeal for property rights holds up then.

Widespread investor-owned airbnb housing is not a problem today in Asbury Park — thank God — because the city council took action before it happened. Other cities around the world aren’t so lucky. They’re now battling this scourge. This ballot question wants to allow it in Asbury Park.

Again, Asbury Park residents can do airbnb-type rental in their own residences. No one has ever been against that. And second homeowners who were doing such short term rentals were grandfathered in last year. The status quo on this issue is excellent and in balance. There are few complaints in Asbury Park today from anyone who says they can’t do airbnb-type rentals. And the city council can make adjustments to the ordinance as needed to accommodate any small issues.

What this ballot question does, if passed, is destroy this balanced status quo. Even worse, the council cannot modify or change what the ballot question does for three years. That’s the law. By then in a booming Asbury Park investors will have had plenty of time to buy up what they want. And our elected officials will be helpless to do anything about it. In addition, if this ballot question causes other unanticipated problems, we can’t do anything about it for three years. Boy, that sounds just great.

I say the only way investors win their ballot question is if voters get confused on the wording, or on the issue in general. No resident should be voting yes on this question. The status quo should be preserved.

God, imagine if all three of these ballot questions pass. That will be massive change in Asbury Park — for the worse.

But, man, will there be a ton of stuff for the triCityNews to write about! So, yes, it would be good for business. But just being about the bottom line is not what we’re about.

After all, we’re the triCityNews. We’re here to help.

 

Vote NO on all three Asbury ballot questions, says Quinn in LGBT column

Amy Quinn is a member of the Asbury Park City Council. She was guest columnist in this week’s LGBT Rainbow Room in the triCityNews. The following is her commentary: 

Luanne Peterpaul has kindly offered me her column this week to communicate about two of my favorite topics, gays and Asbury Park!

Asbury Park has one of the most diverse city councils in Monmouth County, and also a majority of women. That’s no accident. Before we sat together up on that council dais we created a ticket and campaigned together, walking door to door and engaging voters about their concerns. We spelled out clear goals and priorities that we would pursue as the council. The voters approved of us and our priorities and elected us by 2 to 1 margins in both 2014 and 2016. We have since worked tirelessly every day to fulfill our promises and raise this city up.

Asbury Park’s long and rich history with the gay community goes back decades. Whether it was the gay and lesbian bars in the early years, the annual Jersey Pride event, or our local officials risking jail time to marry gays way back in 2004, this city has been not only inclusive of the gay community, but downright welcoming.

When putting together tickets for City Council, we consciously assembled a group that would represent our various communities, i.e. gay, African American, old time Asbury, music, arts, etc… We only have 5 people to try to do this. Maintaining such diversity around a unified vision is why I am asking you to vote NO on all three municipal ballot questions on November 6th. Because the ballot questions amount to a recall of both our council and its priorities.

Ballot question #1 proposes dividing the City up into wards. Presumably the Petitioners believe a ward system would benefit the southwest of the city with one council seat beholden only to that part of the city. But I believe a ward system would be disastrous both for the southwest and the city as a whole. The current council takes all parts of the city into consideration before making every decision. A ward system would splinter the basic attitude of the council. Elections would become more divisive than ever, as there’d be little incentive for ward candidates to pursue or declare a united vision for the whole city’s future.

Ballot question #2 proposes partisan elections. This proposal is so strikingly wrong for our city that I hardly know what to say. Of all the things we need it certainly isn’t local issues getting mixed up with party loyalties and our perennial national bickering. What we have now is candidates for office getting rewarded for agendas that unite rather than divide. Partisan elections would disenfranchise independent voters (nearly 3000 of them) and hand our future over to the two party system. So wrong for Asbury Park.

Ballot question #3 proposes a complete rejection of the council’s painstaking approach to short-term rentals. We got out in front of this issue after noticing next to no yearly rentals and our planning department getting weekly calls from out-of-town developers looking to buy up properties for the SOLE purpose of short-term rentals. Our ordinance strikes a careful balance between locals making some extra income and preserving the character of our neighborhoods. We did a lot of homework and reaching out before arriving at a reasonable framework. You can short-term rent your primary residence, a room in your home, a multi-dwelling unit where you live next door, or if you previously got a short-term rental license. We did this to ensure you live next to neighbors and not frat houses. The ordinance is not yet perfect and we plan further tweaks. But overturning it altogether would be a huge mistake. It would create a free-for-all of unlicensed hotels

Our city council has looked to create a climate which helps flourish Asbury Park’s uniqueness and diversity. We are asking you, Asbury Park, to vote “No” on the ballot questions. Let us continue on the journey of making Asbury Park the best, most inclusive city it can be for everyone. We are just getting started.

 

Quinn in LGBT guest column: Vote NO on all three Asbury ballot questions

(Editor’s Note: Amy Quinn is a member of the Asbury Park City Council. She was the guest columnist in this week’s LGBT Rainbow Room column in the triCityNews.)

Luanne Peterpaul has kindly offered me her column this week to communicate about two of my favorite topics: gays and Asbury Park!

Asbury Park has one of the most diverse city councils in Monmouth County, with a majority of women. That’s no accident. Before we sat together up on that council dais we created a ticket and campaigned together, walking door to door and engaging voters about their concerns. We spelled out clear goals and priorities that we would pursue as the council. The voters approved of us and our priorities and elected us by 2 to 1 margins in both 2014 and 2016. We have since worked tirelessly every day to fulfill our promises and raise this city up. 

Asbury Park’s long and rich history with the gay community goes back decades. Whether it was the gay and lesbian bars in the early years, the annual Jersey Pride event, or our local officials risking jail time to marry gays way back in 2004, this city has been not only inclusive of the gay community, but downright welcoming.  

When putting together tickets for City Council, we consciously assembled a group that would represent our various communities, i.e. gay, African American, old time Asbury, music, arts, etc… We only have 5 people to try to do this. Maintaining such diversity around a unified vision is why Asbury Park should vote no on all three municipal ballot questions on November 6th. Because the ballot questions amount to a recall of both our council and its priorities. 

Ballot question #1 proposes dividing the City up into wards. Presumably the Petitioners believe a ward system would benefit the southwest of the city with one council seat beholden only to that part of the city. But a ward system would be disastrous both for the southwest and the city as a whole. The current council takes all parts of the city into consideration before making every decision. A ward system would splinter the basic attitude of the council. Elections would become more divisive than ever, as there’d be little incentive for ward candidates to pursue or declare a united vision for the whole city’s future. 

Ballot question #2 proposes partisan elections. This proposal is so strikingly wrong for our city that I hardly know what to say. Of all the things we need it certainly isn’t local issues getting mixed up with party loyalties and our perennial national bickering. What we have now is candidates for office getting rewarded for agendas that unite rather than divide. Partisan elections would disenfranchise independent voters (nearly 3000 of them) and hand our future over to the two party system. So wrong for Asbury Park. 

Ballot question #3 proposes a complete rejection of the council’s painstaking approach to short-term rentals (commonly arranged through websites such as airbnb). We got out in front of this issue after noticing next to no yearly rentals and our planning department getting weekly calls from out-of-town developers looking to buy up properties for the SOLE purpose of short-term rentals. Our ordinance strikes a careful balance between locals making some extra income and preserving the character of our neighborhoods. 

We did a lot of homework and reached out to many before arriving at a reasonable framework. You can short-term rent your primary residence, a room in your home, a multi-dwelling unit where you live next door, or if you previously got a short-term rental license. We did this to ensure you live next to neighbors and not frat houses. The ordinance is not yet perfect and we plan further tweaks. But overturning it altogether would be a huge mistake. It would create a free-for-all of unlicensed hotels 

Our city council has looked to create a climate which helps flourish Asbury Park’s uniqueness and diversity. That’s why the full city council is asking Asbury Park to vote no on the ballot questions. Let us continue on the journey of making Asbury Park the best, most inclusive city it can be for everyone. We are just getting started. 

 

Threat to Asbury Park! Democratic leadership steps up against divisive and dangerous ballot questions

While Asbury continues to move forward in most ways, there are three ballot questions facing city voters this November that could have catastrophic consequences if passed. If you give a shit about our city, this should alarm you.

One ballot question would divisively divide our little city into three wards, with a council person representing each. Another would change our non-partisan elections to partisan, which is an invitation to machine politics. And the third would repeal the current ban on outside investors coming into Asbury Park to buy up housing for use as airbnb-style short-term rentals — a problem cities around the world are moving to stop.

Two different groups got enough signatures on petitions to get these divisive and dangerous questions on the ballot. Fortunately, civic and political leaders are stepping forward to oppose this typically Asbury Park political chaos. All five council members have announced their opposition. And now so has the leadership of the city’s Democratic organization.

Dem Chair Joe Grillo

Dem Chair Joe Grillo

Democratic Chairperson Joe Grillo, Vice-Chair Angela Ahbez-Anderson and Chair of the Young Democrats Jess Alaimo all say they’re opposing the three ballot questions. Grillo already issued a statement last week against wards, and Ahbez-Anderson and Alaimo plan to take on the partisan and airbnb ballot questions with statements in opposition in the coming weeks.

These are serious people. Grillo and Ahbez-Anderson are experienced members of the Asbury Park Board of Education. (Ahbez-Anderson is president of the board.) Alaimo is an up-and-coming progressive activist. Together they represent the diversity of Asbury Park: gay and straight, African-American and white, female and male.

I’ll let them do their own talking against the three ballot questions because this Publisher sometimes gets a bit out-of-control when I see threats like these to our beloved little city. This week I’ll attempt to be somewhat sane in explaining why these ballot questions would be a disaster for Asbury Park. Here goes.

With the ward ballot question, the city would be split into three wards with a council person representing each. Only the remaining two council members would be elected citywide. It’s madness. The city is way too small for this, and it would rip us apart. You’d have three of five council members just interested in their own little section of the city. I can’t think of any other municipality this small who does this. Meanwhile, every city with a ward system I’ve seen has a strong directly elected Mayor who runs the city day-to-day, and like a President or Governor, theoretically looks out for the interests of the city as a whole. A council with wards serves as the check-and-balance to such a strong mayor as the legislative branch of government. Asbury Park is nothing like that, with a five member council which includes the mayor as an equal member. Our council sets policy and oversees a professional city manager who runs the city. The council should continue to be elected citywide so there’s unity in Asbury Park.

If approved, the ward ballot question would also cut short the four year terms of the current council members, and make them all run next year. More madness. Obviously, this is a recall election in disguise — and that’s what I suspect is the real motivation of the political faction behind this, who’ve been unsuccessful in winning elections the old-fashioned way: by convincing a majority of their fellow citizens to elect their candidates.

The same political faction is behind the ballot question to make our city’s elections partisan. Right now, candidates all run in one column without party affiliation. But in a partisan system, they’d run as Democrats and Republicans. In overwhelming Democratic Asbury Park, the Democrats would always win, which means a handful of Democratic politicians who control the nominating process will control the city — the very definition of machine politics. Talk about disenfranchising. That the Democratic leadership in place right now opposes this tells you something: they’d initially be the power brokers. But they know that partisan elections are bad for the city, and eventually the faction behind this ballot question will start waging bitter and divisive battles for control of the city’s Democratic Party.

Here’s the mysterious part to this whole thing. There’s a five-member “committee of petitioners” listed on the one petition that got both the ward and partisan questions on the ballot. Yet two of the five say they oppose partisan government — even though they’re sponsors of this petition that got it on the ballot! Don’t expect the other three to tell me whether they also oppose the partisan ballot question they sponsored. So where is this partisan nonsense coming from? You got me. So excuse me for doubting the sincerity of those behind all this as partisan machine politics is about as disenfranchising as it gets.

A completely different group got the question on the ballot that would allow outside investors to come into the city, buy up existing rental housing and single-family homes and use them for short-term airbnb-style rentals. This is now a problem around the world, and the city council property responded to it. They enacted an ordinance limiting airbnb-style short term rentals to the homes of residents who live here — which was the original intent of airbnb. The council also grandfathered in all second homeowners who had been doing short-term rentals so they wouldn’t get hurt.

This ballot question would repeal the city’s short-term rental ordinance, which is meant to protect us from investors coming in and converting our housing stock into short-term airbnb-style rentals. The problems with such investor-owned airbnb housing are obvious.

First, it takes existing year-round rentals off the market, making rentals scarcer and thus drives up rents. Anyone concerned with affordable housing should vote no on this ballot question. Same with young residents who want to continue to rent here. The more that investor-owned airbnb housing takes rentals off the market, the less options there will be for current renters to stay.

And as a quality of life issue, residents should be against this ballot question. Outside investors using a house for just airbnb-type rentals takes away what makes a neighborhood — neighbors. Plus, this is an invitation to rowdy behavior as investors seeking a financial return are going to have less of an interest in who uses their short-term rental than a resident, who’d likely want to keep their home in good shape and have good relations with their neighbors.

The ordinance regulating airbnb-type short-term rentals in Asbury Park is now working. Residents and grandfathered-in second homeowners can use their properties for short-term airbnb-style rentals. We hear few complaints from homeowners that the restrictions are excessive. We hear few complaints about bad behavior from neighbors.

I say this ballot question making Asbury wide open to investor-owned airbnb housing only passes if there’s confusion among voters — the only people for it would be those who’d directly benefit from it financially, few if any of whom are Asbury Park voters. It’s inconceivable to me why most any Asbury voter would support this.

So that’s this Publisher’s sane take this week on the potential mess of all three ballot questions getting approved. Asbury voters should vote no on all three, and everyone else who cares about our city should hope they all go down.

Grillo: Wards will bring political instability and chaos back to Asbury

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe Grillo wrote this column which appears in the Oct. 4 issue of triCityNews. Grillo is the chairperson of the Asbury Park Democratic Organization.)

We know how important these midterm elections are for our country, our state and our region. We have the opportunity to vote in a Democratic bulwark against a White House whose disposition and politics build walls to further divide us. As Democratic municipal chair in Asbury Park, I’m committed to electing Democrats up and down the line to resist Trumpism in all of its forms.

But I’m also asking Asbury Park to fight back locally against permanent divisions that threaten us via three questions for city voters on this year’s ballot. I’m voting no on all three. But I’m most concerned with Municipal Question No.1, which looks to dissolve the current city council and draw up wards each represented by a single councilperson who would run in another (another!) city wide council election next year.

A vote for Municipal Question No. 1 is a vote to bring the political instability and chaos of the past back into Asbury Park.

In theory, the arguments for a ward system are supremely valid, and rooted in genuine and tragically real grievances. It goes like this: With the influx of new residents, rising living costs, and seemingly unfettered gentrification, the historically African-American quadrant in the southwest of the city is shrinking, its community is slowly being pushed out and thus, the argument goes, its political voice must be protected, conserved, and empowered by creating wards. In theory, a ward system would provide institutional representative equity by forcing the city to have a seat on the council just for that quadrant. It’s a valid argument. But creating wards does nothing to address the grievances that threaten the west side, and would create permanent divisions in a city struggling to create unity.

The reality is this: when you look at cities throughout New Jersey, wards become like little fiefdoms. Like Mafia territories. Mini-political bosses emerge. And residents are compelled to kiss the boss’s ring in order to get things done.

You want that pothole fixed? Go see your ward councilman. And, be nice, because if you get on their bad side, good luck with that pothole.

Because other ward councilpersons don’t represent your particular ward, they are less apt to concern themselves with your problems. Over time, wards create permanent divisions between different neighborhoods. Wards are the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish in Asbury Park, which is political unity, civic empowerment and social equity.

The second reason I am voting no is because there has always been council representation from the southwest. On every single winning ticket in the past two generations, whether it was Mayor Butch Saunders, Mayor Kevin Sanders, Mayor Myra Campbell or Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton.

I’ll go even further: a ticket without African-American representation from the southwest cannot, and should not, win in Asbury Park. Period.

So let’s keep it real – this is essentially a recall election. And the reason the petitioners are looking to recall the current city council is not because there isn’t enough “west side” representation on the council – it’s because Yvonne Clayton and Jesse Kendle don’t take orders from the petitioners’ small clique, who, in turn, take orders from power bases outside of the city and the county.

The third reason I am voting No is that neither Asbury Park, nor the petitioners, have control over how these wards are going to be drawn up. The county draws up those lines. Wards are drawn based on voter population. Because of low voter turnout in the southwest over the years, its proposed ward will surely also encompass other parts of the city. What happens if the county draws up a ward that includes both the southwest quadrant and parts of the northwest quadrant? How about a south ward that encompasses both the downtown central business district and the southwest quadrant? Not only is that possible, it’s probable. There is absolutely no guarantee that the petitioners looking for permanent representation from a shrinking demographic will get that with a ward system — we have little to no control over how these wards are drawn up.

The final and most important reason I’m voting no is because creating wards does not address or resolve the specific grievances that the petitioners, and the rest of us, are concerned about: comprehensive affordable housing, equitable workforce development, common-sense controls on unfettered gentrification and greater representation from people of color on the city’s numerous committees, boards and commissions.

I support representative equity, which is what a ward system attempts to address but fails miserably. Creating wards does not create equity. Not by burning the whole house down. The way to do it is to support city council tickets that best reflect our growing diversity and then push those representatives to go deeper in identifying and resolving the city’s clear, present and urgent issues of inequity.

These municipal questions are an attempted power grab. Plain and simple.

As both Americans, and as residents of one of the most progressive small cities in America, I believe that we are all tired of political divisions. We’ve come a long way in Asbury Park, and still have a long way to go. But we go it together, not divided.

Instead of building more walls to divide us, let’s keep Asbury Park united.

Vote “NO” on Municipal Question No. 1.