By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The Asbury Park City Council elections will remain as is with the defeat this week of questions which would have switched the government to a ward system and made elections partisan.
In addition, Mayor John Moor who ran unopposed for his seat, received a healthy 98.25 percent of the vote with a tally of 3040. The other 1.75 percent represented 54 write in candidates.
Councilman Jesse Kendle, with 2270 votes, easily won over challenger Felicia Simmons who received 951 votes. He won by a 70 percent to 29 percent margin.
Moor decribed the election as “strange” given that he had no opponent for the mayor’s seat but felt he and the entire council were running against the ballot questions.
If the ward system had been approved by voters the entire council would have been up for reelection next year.
“Nobody had a good feeling for how it was going to go,” Moor said. “There were more ‘yes’ signs than ‘no,'” he said referring to the questions. “We knew it was going to be a tough election, but we worked hard, we were fighting three ballot questions. I’m happy the way it turned out.”
Question one approving a ward system was defeated 1935 to 1427 and the second question approving partisan elections was defeated 2051 to 1255.
As an organizer of the Committee for a More Equitable Asbury Park, Simmons was instrumental in having the two ballot questions placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“I put time in getting signature, but it’s not about little cliques, it was about equality for the whole city, about a safeguard for the future,” she said. “It was for an historical view; for the Asbury I know and I love.”
A third question, a petition driven ordinance loosening the guidelines for short term rentals, was also defeated by a 2021 to 1280 vote.
This leaves the short term rental ordinance approved by this council a year ago in place.
It also leaves the possibility of the governing body tweaking the ordinance as needed.
On Wednesday Simmons said although she feels blessed because of the kind of campaign she ran, she would spend Wednesday licking her wounds.
“Then I’m going to get up tomorrow and get to work,” she said.
In fact Simmons was planning on attending a Save Our Waterfront meeting and attending the council meeting on Thurs., Nov. 8 for a presentation by iStar.
Simmons said she ran her campaign with less than $300.
“I campaigned with nine yard signs and six tee shirts,” she said. “People talk about a big machine, my machine was the people.”
Kendle was happy with the results.
“I think you give credit to people who voted for us. They saw what we had done over four years. It was a reward for the whole council, not just me,” he said.
Kendle also vowed to keep working for the city.
“We have a purpose, to work on all four quarters of the city and continue doing what we are doing,” he said. “I thank everybody who felt that I was right for the job.”
He was also happy the ballot questions were defeated saying he believes that at first people were confused about what they would mean for the city.
“When we got out and started campaigning, the more people we explained it to – and people asked questions, they understood,” he said. “We weren’t ready for a ward system and we’re going to do well not having it.”