Last year, Asbury Park’s City Council race was plagued by what seemed like endless controversy. The non-partisan election saw members of both the A-Team and One Asbury tickets join the city’s governing body, but its outcome was fraught by divisiveness and controversy that continued right up to the day Mayor Myra Campbell was sworn into office. Thus, when both teams announced their chosen slate of contenders for this year’s follow-up election, one didn’t exactly have to be Madam Marie to foresee another tumultuous campaign on the horizon. Now, with less than two full days until voters take to the polls, the campaigns for local office have undergone dramatic and unexpected turns.
For example, Dan Jacobson over at TriCity News recently questioned the legality of the A-Team’s Vote by Mail collection process, and Asbury Together has challenged the validity of three hundred of these ballots, which could lead to some being disqualified. If such a purge occurs, the impact isn’t going to be limited to these local races, as the ballot will have to be discarded in its entirety. What does that mean? Well, votes cast for Board of Education, Monmouth County Freeholder, the House of Representatives, and United States Senate will all be disqualified, which will truly be a shame, especially if the margin of loss in one or more of these contests is close.
But the controversy doesn’t even stop there. Asbury Park residents recently received an A-Team mailer that quoted beloved celebrity politician Cory Booker, who is currently seeking re-election, as endorsing mayoral candidate Remond Palmer. The problem: when asked, the Senator denied having done so via his Twitter account, which will inevitably lead to confusion on the part of some voters. The municipal Democratic Party has denied having anything to do with the mailing, as they didn’t endorse city candidates this year, which has further muddied the clarity of an already confusing situation.
Add in that TriCity News recently plastered their front page with the headline, “Bye Bye Moor and Quinn: A-Team Sweeps if Asbury Election Held Today,” and it becomes apparent that, aside from being contentious, this race might be extremely close; the kind of government that takes control of City Hall will be determined on Tuesday. Will it be a throwback to the 1990s, or a continuation of the precedent set by Quinn and Moor?
This messiness will hang in the air until Tuesday, but the members of Asbury Together remain optimistic their message, reputation, and history of championing transparent grassroots government will carry them to victory on Election Day.
Incumbent Councilwoman Amy Quinn, seeking re-election to a second term, has expressed disappointment with the tactics her opponents used, but remains confident regarding her ticket’s chances.
“I’m exhausted but proud of our team,” she said. “Our volunteers and staff are working tirelessly to get the vote out and we are so grateful to them. That said, no matter what happens on November fourth, the next day I’m calling out of work, taking a hot yoga class, and maybe catching a movie!”
Joe Woerner, who said watching Quinn and Moor fight for increased accountability in City Hall restored his faith in the local government, is also running on the Asbury Together ticket. Woerner, who has always been involved in the community, views the Council as “the most effective way to enact change in our city,” and perceives himself as well suited to do so.
“I became frustrated with the inaction of the incumbents,” said Woerner. “Whether it was crime, Bradley Cove, mismanagement of the budget, or lack of options for our youth, I knew we could do better!”
Despite all the controversy, Woerner remains optimistic.
“I am excited about this election,” Woerner said. “I believe the Asbury Together ticket is hands-down the strongest ticket running.”
All voters in Asbury Park should be excited because of the prospect this race presents, as the future of the little City by the Sea will be determined on Tuesday…whether that’s for better or worse has yet to be seen.