By Alison Bitterly
SEA BRIGHT -At Tuesday night’s Borough Council meeting, mayoral candidate Chris Sandel offered a suggestion to the town council: that they host a town forum-style event in which members of the community could get a chance to meet and interact with the mayoral candidates face-to-face.
Sandel is the Independent alternative to Democratic candidate Dina Long and Republican Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, who was Sea Bright Mayor from 2004 to 2007. The present mayor, Maria Fernandes, announced earlier this year that she would not seek another term. Sandel said at the meeting, “I’m a new candidate, I want to serve my town, and I want to get my name out there.” He acknowledged that for this reason, holding an event for voters to meet the candidates would be a little self-serving, but all the same, he said, “I think it’s a good idea.”
Many others in the room agreed. Councilwoman Long expressed an interest in participating in the event, and Sea Bright GOP Municipal Chair Marianne McKenzie agreed to help put something together with Sandel.
Fernandes noted that there would be some obstacles to creating such an event, saying that “the government cannot use public space for its own purposes” under New Jersey law. However, an individual can rent out a space or host an event at his or her own home. “You can do it,” Fernandes said. “Just on your own.”
Sandel expressed his view that it seems “counterintuitive” that the government cannot use its own resources to better facilitate communication between government and the public, yet he agreed to pursue other avenues.
There were no concrete plans made at Tuesday’s meeting to put a town forum event into action, yet with the encouragement of Long and McKenzie, prospects for Sandel’s idea remain hopeful. Perhaps Sea Bright citizens will have a chance to truly immerse themselves in the mayoral race before they take to the polls on Tuesday, November 8th.