Republicans challenge incumbents to debate this weekend
Red Bank Council members Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis were no shows at the 18th annual candidates forum hosted by the Westside Community Group, according to a report on RedBankGreen.
Republican challengers for Borough Council Sean DiSomma and Linda Schwabenbauer fielded questions from the standing room only crowd of about 150 at the River Street Commons senior housing center on Catherine Street. DiSomma offered Zipprich and Lewis’s chairs to members of the audience.
Mayor Pat Menna, a Democrat running unopposed for reelection, showed up half way through the two hour forum. RedBankGreen reported Menna was at a campaign fundraiser at the Oyster Point Hotel for the first hour of the debate.
DiSomma, who is also Chairman of the Red Bank Republican Committee, told MMM that Zipprich and Lewis are afraid of facing the voters and are hoping that they can run out the clock of the election without defending their records.
“The Westside Community Group offered Zipprich and Lewis three different dates for the forum,” DiSomma said, “they cancelled last week’s Council Meeting, as they have done for 5 of the last 6 pre-election council meetings. If I had their record, I would want to hide too.”
DiSomma noted that under Zipprich and Lewis, Red Bank’s debt has increased 22% and spending has increased 28%. “Lewis doesn’t attend council meetings,” DiSomma said, “she literally calls in her votes on important matters to the people of Red Bank.”
The events organizer, Amy Goldsmith, told the audience that Zipprich was out of town on a family medical issue and that Lewis was called away on business.
DiSomma said that the Red Bank NAACP, who have hosted debates in the borough since Mike Arnone was Mayor from 1978 through 1990, canceled their debates this year because Zipprich and Lewis declined to participate.
DiSomma offered to host a Tele-Town Hall Debate “any time and anyplace” this weekend so that Red Bank voters could hear all four council candidates debate the issues.
“It is sad that Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis can’t find the time to face the voters,” DiSomma said, “Linda and I will even debate them on the telephone if they will call in. Or we’ll meet them in a public venue. Red Bank voters deserve to make an informed choice next Tuesday.”