Longtime Asbury Park resident Kerry Margaret Butch and Asbury Park native Felicia Simmons announced their candidacies for this year’s City Council election scheduled for Nov. 3.
Both women are vocal advocates who consistently devote time and talent to local issues. Recently, they participated in the successful campaign to restore Asbury’s historic boardwalk and continued to oppose installation of a private pool club and a condominium complex on the dune buffer on the oceanfront. They also successfully advocated for a new affordable housing law and helped craft and negotiate the recently passed ordinances.
When the coronavirus hit the area, they advocated early on that information and resources needed to get to the city’s most vulnerable populations in order to impact outcomes in Asbury Park and save lives. Butch and Simmons also participated in the peaceful stand for Black lives in June underscoring the value of Asbury Park youth and families.
The candidates said their focus will be to preserve what is special about Asbury Park- its diversity, history, art, music, waterfront, and, especially, its people. They will ensure that issues and concerns that affect the welfare of Asbury Park residents become the council’s priority.
Butch and Simmons believe that people shouldn’t make the choice to leave Asbury Park because of steadily increasing taxes, a scarcity of parking and unaffordable rent. Their number one focus will be to prevent people from getting forced out. They will also advocate for employment, job creation, access to healthy food and health services.
More on the candidates:
Butch, a graduate of George Mason University, currently works for Rutgers University. She has over 25 years of experience as a nonprofit program development and administration professional and has served as the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the Urban Project Director for the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, the Executive Director of the Asbury Park Consortium and as a community organizer for the Ironbound Committee Against Toxic Waste. She was a member of the first graduating class of AmeriCorps serving with Clean Ocean Action in Asbury Park. Notably, she produced the award -winning documentary entitled, “Greetings from Asbury Park” that was shown throughout the country and on PBS. She is a long-term board member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, served on the Wesley Lake Commission, taught catholic education at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church and helped renovate the Stephen Crane House.
Simmons is a graduate of Asbury Park High School. She was mentored in youth ministry by the Project Hope Mission located at the West Side Community Center. She studied social work and political science at Brookdale Community College in its partnership with Rutgers University. For nearly a decade, Simmons worked at King Manor Care Center in recreational therapy where she developed her special talent for working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. She is currently the President of Monmouth Ocean County National Action Network and Chair of Education for the Neptune/Asbury Park NAACP and serves on the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She was selected out of thousands of entrants to participate in the program for TEDx Asbury Park where she performed her inspired piece, “The Smile,” which has now been translated from English into five different languages. She is the co-parent of a wonderful 17-year old son, Zachariah D. Simmons-Bryant, who attends the Asbury Park High School and is enrolled its early college program, the Dream Academy.
For more information, or to arrange an opportunity to meet the candidates in a socially distanced or completely virtual way, contact Kerry at email@example.com or call (732) 982-6942 or Felicia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (347) 374-1133.