Two firebrand red bank borough councilmen, on the diversity and city-meets-livability factors that make their community unique
Borough councilmen Michael Whelan, 24, and Mark Taylor, 33, took office in January and immediately found themselves juggling their day jobs with night meetings, public events, and weighty issues. Just a few of their Red Bank constituency’s challenges are combining the community’s rich history with its urban vibe, diverse neighborhoods, vast offerings in the cultural, entertainment, shopping, and dining realms, and imaginative redevelopments.
Whelan, a 10-year Red Bank resident who graduated from Lincroft’s Christian Brothers Academy and Manhattan College, has a degree in Political Science and Government. A Sales/Account Executive with Global Indemnity Insurance Agency, Inc., he views his age as an asset.
“I am unburdened by family commitments, have the energy to work long hours, and am not dogmatic in my views,” said Whelan, whose family includes police officers and firefighters. “The humility to adapt, learn, and improve is essential for any leader. I intend to serve Red Bank for the foreseeable future, so it enables me to have the longest view in the room.” A passion for politics and a “burning desire to help the community” were catalysts for his first run for office, and he hopes to eventually raise a family in Red Bank.
“Whatever I may lack in age and experience I think is more than compensated for with passion, enthusiasm, and vision for the rejuvenation of Red Bank,” he said. As councilman, Whelan acts as the Police and Fire Commissioner, Chairman of the Parking Committee, serves on the Planning Board, and is liaison to River Center, the downtown business alliance.
Thirty-three and engaged to be married in November, Mark Taylor is a lifelong Red Bank resident who attended local public schools, graduated with a double major (History and Criminal Justice) from the University of Scranton, and obtained his law degree from Widener University School of Law (now Delaware Law School). He is an attorney with Shaw Kreizer, P.A. in Red Bank’s bustling downtown.
“Service to the community was always important in my family,” Taylor said. “Once I finished law school and returned to Red Bank, I found myself questioning a lot of the things I took for granted growing up here. I wanted to build a life here and found it irresponsible not to want to know more about what was really going on. The only way to peek behind the curtain was to actually be involved in the government.” Taylor began by volunteering on the Parks and Recreation committee, which he said, “created a bigger itch,” so he ran for council.
Red Bank’s current hot-button issue is downtown parking, but working with businesses, maintaining aging infrastructure, and keeping the borough affordable for young families are also priorities for the pair, who became close friends while campaigning.
“We must create an environment for businesses to succeed and do a better job of supporting them,” Whelan said. “The business community contributes almost half of our taxes. We must have a thriving downtown.”
“We have to foster an environment where a 21st century business can flourish,” added Taylor. “We are committed to finding ways to streamline processes, open government up, and be more responsive.” He believes Red Bank needs a parking deck, for example, but the challenge is how to bring it to fruition. “There are options. We have engaged the business community and residents, and are committed to finding a solution.”
Taylor chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee, the Department of Public Utilities Committee, and the Public Safety Committee. Working with Red Bank’s youth has been one of the more enjoyable aspects of his public service, he said, adding that maximizing parks and rehabilitating the riverfront Marine Park following Superstorm Sandy are crucial.
“Our people, our culture, our river, and our vision are our best aspects,” Taylor said. “I’m now in a unique position to balance the competing interests of keeping the town desirably quaint yet functionally modern.”
“The most enjoyable moment is when I interact and work with business owners and residents who care about the future of Red Bank as much as I do,” Whelan said. “My work here has been an incredible experience.”
Red Bank Mayor and Council Offices