ABOVE – A PACKED CHAMBER FOR THE ASBURY PARK CITY COUNCIL SWEARING IN MONDAY, JULY 1, 2013. Coaster photo.
By DON STINE
ASBURY PARK – Jeers and boos greeted new Asbury Park Mayor Myra Campbell at the July 1 City Council reorganization meeting where she was sworn in to her first term on the council and where many residents were expecting to see John Moor named mayor.
Campbell was one of three winning candidates from the One Asbury team to win a four-year council seat. John Moor, the highest vote-getter, and Amy Quinn, the second-highest vote-getter, were also elected and sworn in to four year terms along with incumbents John Loffredo and Sue Henderson.
Traditionally in Asbury Park the highest vote-getter is selected by the other council members to serve as mayor. The three winning candidates from the One Asbury ticket had indicated Moor would receive the votes for mayor.
But late last week Loffredo and Henderson, the only two members of their ticket to win seats on the council, met with Campbell and told her they would support her for mayor. She agreed. She is the first African-American woman to serve as city mayor. It is also the first council to have three women council members.
Both Moor and Quinn voted no on the nomination. Moor and Quinn also voted no on the vote for Henderson as deputy mayor.
Moor expressed deep disappointment in Campbell, his former running mate.
“It is disheartening to think that the person who campaigned alongside Amy Quinn and myself would take a backhanded deal to become mayor of our great city. It is disappointing to think that Myra, who signed on for openness and transparency in government, would take such a deal,” Moor said in a prepared statement issued prior to Monday’s meeting.
Word had already spread about the intention of Loffredo and Henderson to make Campbell the new mayor and a standing-room-only crowd occupied the council chambers as each member was sworn in at noon.
When Moor came up to be sworn in, thunderous applause broke out with shouts of “Mayor John Moor.” Quinn also received applause as she went up to be sworn in.
When Loffredo nominated Campbell to be the new mayor, outbursts came from the crowded council chambers both for and against the nomination.
“Liars,” “Traitors,” “You should be ashamed of yourselves,” came from the audience.
Then, when Henderson seconded the motion, there were more outbursts.
Shouts of “connivers,” “turncoats,” “no respect for the voters” and “there are traitors in the room” were hurled into the air.
Others shouted out “This is disgraceful” and the “The people need to be listened to” with some referring to Campbell as a Benedict Arnold.
Others in the crowd began chanting Moor’s name.
Campbell, Loffredo and Henderson then voted for Campbell to be appointed mayor with Moor and Quinn voting no. The same vote applied when Henderson’s name was nominated for deputy mayor.
At one point police officers were called into the chambers and stood to the side of the podium.
As Campbell was sworn in as mayor some still shouted out “Travesty” “and “You think you are above the law.”
The same also happened when Henderson was sworn in.
Moor eventually attempted to calm the crowd down, saying “Enough is enough.”
“I appreciate your support but we still need to keep this cordial,” he said.
Campbell then delivered a statement stating that this was the first opportunity for an African-American female to occupy the mayor’s office.
“This is a window of opportunity for an African-American female (to obtain this office) and this is an opportunity that may never be opened again,” she said.
Shouts continued to be hurled from the crowd, at which point Campbell said she had every intention of reading her statement and that people who don’t want to hear it can just leave.
At this point, a number of people left their seats and went outside the building.
Campbell she was approached by Loffredo and Henderson about becoming the next mayor, at which point Quinn said that she had been offered the same deal twice but turned it down each time.
Campbell went on to say that she hoped the council can work together in the future.
“I hope we can unite for the common good of all citizens of Asbury Park,” she said.
Henderson said she is confident all council members can work together for the good of the city.
“We need to work together to move the city forward no matter what happens. We have to work together,” she said.
Quinn said she is upset over the turn of events.
“This city wants the will of the people to be respected and this did not happen today,” she said.
Loffredo said his tenure on the council “has been a long haul” but that he hopes everyone can work together.
“The five of us have to keep Asbury Park moving forward,” he said.
After the meeting Loffredo said he was honored to be a counncil member in the city of Asbury Park.
“And I don’t see why others cannot be honored to be council members,” he said.
No one spoke during the public portion.
The political makeup of the council may change, however. On July 2 a Monmouth County Superior Court Judge heard arguments challenging recent county rulings over the eligibility of vote-by-mail and absentee ballots from the May 14 council election.
The challenge was filed by Daniel Harris III, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat on the A-Team campaign. Harris is seeking the counting of 332 vote-by-mail ballots and 32 provisional ballots that were deemed ineligible by the Board of Elections.
The next hearing on the challenge is July 16.