Factions limit Red Bank Commission’s productivity

Red Bank commissioners are having a difficult time making decisions without a fifth commissioner to break ties — including appointing a fifth commissioner, to represent District 3.

Three of the four candidates were nominated at the Commission’s May 20 meeting but none received a majority vote. The commissioners needed to appoint someone by the June 3 meeting to serve until November in order to avoid having a special-called election at a cost of $10,000 to taxpayers.

Mayor John Roberts said he would give each of the candidates three minutes to explain why they wanted to be a commissioner at the June 3 meeting before the commissioners’ second attempt to make an appointment.

Commissioner Rick Causer and Vice Mayor Floy Pierce protested giving the candidates another opportunity to speak, adding that they had not been informed of the speeches prior to the meeting.

“There is a process we’re supposed to adhere to,” Causer said.

Vice Mayor Pierce argued that it was unfair to allow the candidates to speak again since not all were present. Becky Browder was the absent candidate.

The candidates were not permitted to speak.

Roberts nominated Browder, which was seconded by Commissioner Eddie Pierce. Roberts said he selected Browder because she planned to serve as a caretaker of the seat until the November election so the people could make the decision on their representative.

When Causer and Vice Mayor Pierce voted against Browder, Roberts and Commissioner Pierce then nominated Ed LeCompte, who was also voted down by Causer and Vice Mayor Pierce. Roberts and Commissioner Pierce then voted to appoint Jon Baker, also voted down by Causer and Vice Mayor Pierce, who then nominated Jane Hoseman. The other two commissioners voted against appointing Hoseman, which means the city must hold a special-called election at a date yet to be determined.

Commissioners were also unable to pass the city’s budget on first reading. Causer and Vice Mayor Pierce voted against passing the budget, which Roberts explained was a formality to move the process along so the budget could be voted upon on second reading by the end of June.

“We haven’t made any decisions on this budget whatsoever,” Vice Mayor Pierce said.

“There’s so much in there that needs to be looked at and adjusted,” said Causer. “We’re almost at an impasse.”

Commissioners voted to table the matter until June 17. Roberts said the commission must pass a budget by June 30.

The room was full of Red Bank residents, several of whom chose to express disappointment in the commission.

“You need to appoint someone tonight so we can get some city business done,” said resident and former Red Bank Commissioner Ruth Jeno.

“This is very childish,” said resident Karen Stage. “I’m not proud of Red Bank right now.”

Resident Mike Tindle said he was disappointed the candidates were not allowed to speak before the commissioners attempted to make an appointment.

“I think this would have been a wonderful opportunity for us to hear from all the applicants,” he said.

Baker and LeCompte both announced they would be running in the special-called election for the District 3 seat, the date for which has not yet been set.