Home>Campaigns>With change of candidates, Red Bank race has suddenly become interesting

Former Red Bank Councilman Mark D. Taylor. (Photo: Michael Whelan).

With change of candidates, Red Bank race has suddenly become interesting

Ex-Republican councilman enters race as bipartisan coalition seeks non-partisan election

By David Wildstein, September 15 2022 6:38 am

Red Bank typically votes for Democrats – Phil Murphy won it with 60% last year and Joe Biden with 69% in 2020 – but an informal coalition with some Democrats who want to prevent controversial Councilman Ed Zipprich from controlling the governing body could make Republicans viable in the November general election.

Republicans this week reshuffled their slate, with Mark D. Taylor, who won a borough council seat in 2015 and didn’t seek a second term three years later, now becoming a candidate after Christine Stout dropped out of the race.

“I did not have any plan to run, but I felt compelled after hearing the outcry from Red Bank residents – including many Democrats – that are disgusted with the dysfunction that Ed Zipprich and his allies keep creating at Borough Hall,” Taylor stated. “We need to stop the chaos as soon as possible and restore honor to our local government.”

The overarching local issue this year is a public question on the ballot to change Red Bank’s form of government to non-partisan.  Taylor served on the charter study commission that recommended the change; Zipprich oppose it.

A supporter of the change to non-partisan government, Billy Portman, scored a landslide off-the-line victory in the Democratic primary against Zipprich’s candidate, Councilman Michael Ballard.  Portman won by a 60%-39% margin.

A slate of county committee candidates who ran with Portman resulted in Zipprich losing his post as Democratic municipal chairman.

If voters pick the non-partisan option, it will trigger a May election for mayor and council.  But Taylor and his bipartisan alliance want to stop Zipprich from leading a 5-1 supermajority until the new council would take office on July 1, 2023.

“Like many residents, Mark and I realized that a Zipprich supermajority will be intent on settling more political scores in 2023 before a new charter can take effect – all at the expense of Red Bank – and we must all work together to prevent that,” said Jonathan M. Penney, who is running on the Republican ticket with Taylor.

They will face two Zipprich allies, Democrats Angela Mirandi and John L. Jackson.

As part of the restructuring of the GOP ticket, mayoral candidate Brian Irwin has withdrawn so Portman will be unopposed in the general election.

“Jon and I have a shared vision of working with the good people from all sides to restore honor to Red Bank,” Taylor stated . “Our candidacy will provide voters with the opportunity to vote yes on the referendum, while ensuring that Red Bank has good stewardship before the new charter that the voters approve takes effect.”

Taylor, a 39-year-old attorney, was the top vote-getter in the 2015 Red Bank council race, with running mate Michael Whelan defeating three-term incumbent Michael DuPont and Ballard.  That gave Republicans a 4-2 majority until they lost it the following year.  All six council seats are currently occupied by Democrats.

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