Three Monmouth Towns Have Elections Next Week, Highlands to have its first non-partisan election

Voters in Highlands, Keansburg and Long Branch will go to the polls next Tuesday (May 13) to elect members of their towns governing bodies in non-partisan elections.

IMG_1103 (800x468)Highlands has the only competitive race of the three towns with elections next week. The Sandy ravaged borough is having its first non-partisan election. Last November voters approved a referendum that moved municipal election day to May and did away with party lines.

Six candidates are running for two seats on the council.  None of the six are bracketed together or share the same slogan.

Incumbent Council Members Rebecca Kane and Chris Francy are defending their seats.  Kane, elected as a Democrat, is seeking her fourth, non-consecutive term on the council. She lost the mayor’s race to Frank Nolan last November. Kane’s slogan is Committed to Community. Dedicated to Progress.   Francy was twice Kane’s Democratic running mate. He’s seeking his third term, this time under the banner Flood Control Advocate for Renewed Highlands.  Francy was Nolan’s Democratic opponent for mayor in 2010.

Kane and Francy voted down a proposed zoning ordinance last year which would have potentially lead to a $100 million development being built on what is now a trailer park. Kane voted for giving Patrick DeBlasio his six concurrent government job, Highlands CFO.  Francy voted, with Nolan, against DeBlasio’s hiring.

Kane is a contracts administrator for a local telecommunications firm. Francy is a retired mechanical engineer.

Richard O’Neil, a Republican, served three terms as mayor, a partial term on the council prior to his election as mayor and one term on the council after stepping down from his reelection campaign for mayor in 2007 to make way for Anna Little.  O’Neil is running with the slogan Proven Leadership Proven Performance. He managed Highlands’s clean up from Superstorm Sandy as a volunteer at Mayor Nolan’s request.   He currently serves on the Zoning Board and the Housing Commission. O’Neil says he wants the municipal government to be friendlier to those who want to invest in Highlands’ revitalization and increase the use of shared services agreements to reduce municipal budget.  O’Neil is a union pipe-fitter.

John Urbanski was elected to the council three times as a Democrat after losing his first race as an Independent.  He finished his third term in 2009. Urbanski said he regrets some of the decisions he made during his tenure on the council and will now aggressively encourage new investment in Highlands.  Like O’Neil, Urbanski said Highlands should enter into regional service agreements whenever possible. He is running without a slogan. Urbanski owns and operates a auto repair and towing facility.

Larry Colby and Doug Card have not previously served on the borough’s governing body.

Colby, a member of the Planning Board and Chairman of the Clam Depuration Plant Commission, is a life long Highlands resident with deep ties in the community. He has no ballot slogan. His lawn signs say Renew, Restore, Rebuild.   Colby manages his family’s real estate interests and his brother’s plumbing company. His is a board member of the Highlands Business Partnership.

Card ran a write-in campaign for mayor last November, garnering 15% of the vote.  He was also a leader of the movement to change Highlands elections to the new non-partisan process. His campaign slogan in Non-partisan. Card is running on a platform of transparency and accountability.  He was appointed by Nolan to serve on the borough’s Environmental Commission and was involved with the Housing Committee during the FEMA Long Term Recovery process.  46 years old, Card is retired from the hospitality industry and is financially independent.  He does freelance carpentry from time to time.

This race is impossible to predict for this former Highlands GOP Chairman.  Turnout for the first non-partisan election is the big question.  Gun to my head, I would say only 600-700 voters, roughly 30%, of the voters turn out.

From the looks of lawn signs around town, it looks to be a three person race between Card, Colby and Kane.  But lawn signs are not a reliable indicator in Highlands.  Card and Kane are working social media, but neither of them are working it as well as Nolan did last year in his successful reelection bid.  O’Neil and Urbanski have a history of winning with last minute get out the vote efforts of their sizable, for Highlands, personal networks. Francy’s smartest supporter has started to stir the pot on social media in an attempt to weaken support for Card and Colby.  There are more members of the Highlands facebook group, 1,200, than there are likely voters in the election.

Whoever works smartest and hardest for the next seven days will win.

We’ll summarize the Long Branch and Keansburg races, such as they are, later this week.  The incumbents are set up to win easily in both.


Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, Highlands, Long Branch | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments »

15 Comments on “Three Monmouth Towns Have Elections Next Week, Highlands to have its first non-partisan election”

  1. Carolyn Broullon said at 7:55 pm on May 7th, 2014:

    Correction Art, Doug was not the leader nor was he part of Highlands United (the organization formed to change to Non-Patisan elections

  2. Art Gallagher said at 8:09 pm on May 7th, 2014:

    Thanks Carolyn.

    While there is no question that Highlands United got the non-partisan ball rolling and was the primary force behind the referendum, in my informed opinion, they were not the only leaders responsible for the passage of the referendum.

    I stand by my characterization of Doug as one of those leaders.

  3. angus said at 8:09 pm on May 7th, 2014:

    Who is francys smartest supporter?

  4. Art Gallagher said at 8:12 pm on May 7th, 2014:

    take you pick, angus. It’s either you or the other supporter. 😉

  5. Lucille Kane said at 6:37 am on May 8th, 2014:

    Art, Couple of questions. Other than that “gun to my head”, on what basis are you predicting low voter turn out? Apathy?

    As to Mayor Nolan’s “better use of social media”, are you referring to his column in the AHHerald “Highland’s Happenings”.
    If so, that was a bimonthly event; hardly a media blitz.

  6. Mike Harmon said at 8:23 am on May 8th, 2014:

    Not sure I understand the benefits on nonpartisan elections in May.

    Is the idea to reduce turnout and cover up your political leanings?

    Maybe someone can explain how is good for the town.

  7. Lucille Kane said at 9:18 am on May 8th, 2014:

    The nonpartisan elections are being held for the same reason Gov Christie held a special election for the Senate seat won by Cory Booker. To avoid having a candidates name under party designation….you know, for straight line voters. In this small town, I see no great advantage. It’s a shame, that in our financial crisis we have to bear the burden of the extra costs at this time. I’m sure voter turnout will be less than a November election. That and the extra cost are why we switched our school board elections to November. Go figure…..or ask “Highlands United”.

  8. Art Gallagher said at 10:30 am on May 8th, 2014:


    I base my prediction of low turnout not so much on apathy but inertia. People are not used to voting in May. There is little media coverage and there has been no mail from the candidates that I’ve seen.

    If not for lawn signs, must people probably would not know there is an elections.

    Like the school board elections of old and primaries, elections in the Spring tend to have low turn out.

    As far as Mayor Nolan’s use of social media last fall, no, I am not talking about his column on AH Herald.

  9. Lucille Kane said at 11:21 am on May 8th, 2014:

    So tell me, Art, is that inertia on the part of the candidates, the voters or all of the above. Four of the candidates have been extremely quiet. Perhaps they are depending on already established bases.

    As to mailings, there has been one to date. Perhaps you didn’t receive yours as the Candidate thought she’d save a stamp. waddaya think????

  10. Carolyn Broullon said at 11:44 am on May 8th, 2014:

    Non-Partisan elections remove the party chair from both the GOP and DEM from picking candidates to place on ballot. Instead, if you want to run, go out and get your signatures and you are on the ballot. This way Highlanders choose who is on the ballot not solely the party chair/part committee.

    As for May, it is the law that the first Non-Partisan election be held in May. When Highlands United asked the Council to place moving the elections back to November on next week’s ballot, the Council voted 4-1 AGAINST with only Francy voting for it.

    The explanation from Council was “why rush” and “we have plenty of time to change it back” what about “it would be confusing to the public”. So once again: do nothing and kick the can down the road.

    And before anyone decides to question the legitimacy of what I have just written, please watch the town meeting when this was brought up as it is video recorded on You Tube. It is also in the minutes of the 2-19-14 meeting, but the video is not edited.

  11. Kim skorka said at 12:00 pm on May 8th, 2014:


    If the town can’t afford the extra $7,000 for this one election, perhaps our council should suggest some spending cuts.

    Let me suggest that the EMT and FD come up with $7,000 through fund raising to offset the cost of the new ambulance and/or to pay down the bond on the fire truck.

    If $7,000 is that big of a deal, maybe there is staff that can be cut. Or maybe the council should have negotiated DiBlasio’s contract for $7,000 less.

    Or perhaps the council members that fought against non-partisan elections on the grounds that it would cost the town more money would now be willing to forgo the small stipend they receive.

    This $7,000 that I’m using comes from Stephen Pfeffer when he explained why the municipal property tax is going up 10%. Of course the bulk of that increase is to pay our debts but if you want to quibble about $7,000 we can.

  12. Lucille Kane said at 12:23 pm on May 8th, 2014:

    Well, Kim, the town really can’t afford the $7,000. It can’t afford a lot of things, but that doesn’t stop one candidate from promising all……Also, “shovel ready” is not cheap, but necessary….so you can plan to loosen up those purse string regardless of who is elected. There are rules and regulations and laws that have to be followed; dealing with that doesn’t make things easier or faster no matter who sits on that Council seat. With all the slings and arrows one candidate has been throwing around, it’s a wonder anybody wants it.

    Why are you picking on the HFD? Without the brave men and women that volunteer their services, you’d be in need of a paid fire department, and pensions, and sick leave. And now, you’re throwing the EMT (I presume you mean our First Aid Squad) into the mix? What is it with you people to pick on the very group that could save your life, property not to count your money. Shame on you. To mix that into politics really hits below the belt.

    As far as non partisan goes, it was simply from giving status to the candidates as Rep or Dem. In a partisan election, anyone had the same choice to run. Same rules, so, please, don’t make it what it isn’t.

  13. Kim skorka said at 12:45 pm on May 8th, 2014:

    Shame on me for what? Thinking outside the box on how this town can raise some funds? For opening the dialogue on our town’s spending? I see no shame in offering suggestions. At least I’m trying.

    You never offer any solutions and never having anything positive to contribute to the discussion. I hope some day you can channel your energy into something positive.

  14. angusismadatthebiasedjournalist said at 4:59 pm on May 8th, 2014:

    So your comment is now being used as evidence. Its bogus and you should retract your supposition. Or at least make it clear its your opinion(which as usual is wrong) I don’t think Lori is helping chris and Im definitely not.

  15. Agree that May elections said at 7:38 am on May 10th, 2014:

    are like the old April school board elections: they usually favor the incumbents/ those with any name ID. If you call the election office, you will find that almost no absentee ballots for this race are in.. that usually means very little interest in that election. so, the few that effectively drag their friends/ family out will win..is that better for the little beleaguered town? guess only time will tell. We are at the point in NJ where the unthinkable word consolidation,may soon have to become a reality: everyone wants their own little identity, their fiefdom to run, gotta keep things the same: the facts and our ridiculous tax bills say otherwise: we are being taxed, fined, fee-d, penalty-d, and assessed to death, in this state: we are a small and dense California/ Detroit waiting to happen: it has to come down to all politicians’ promises,for votes, and they usually involve OUR money- we simply cannot sustain them all- and no one is brave enough in tough times to submit that the re- distribution to the welfare state, and any program to those who don’t/ won’t work, is well on its way and, again, the quote: socialism is when you finally run out of other peoples’ money, is here,right now.