By Liz SheehanSEA BRIGHT – Republican incumbent Brian Kelly, who has served on the council for 11 years, was reelected to the Borough Council by a large margin for another three-year term, according to unofficial results.Newcomer independent Kevin Birdsall was also elected to the council for a three-year term, beating out Kelly’s Republican running mate, Jennifer Walsh, and independent Linda Lamia.Republican Peggy Bills decided not to run again for the council seat after 11 years as a member because she no longer had the time to dedicate to the position. “I learned a lot, I’m glad I did it,” she said Tuesday.According to the Monmouth County Clerk’s office, Councilman Kelly received 561 votes, and Walsh got 303; Birdsall received 383 with Lamia tallying 151.The 6-member council now has three Republicans: Kelly, Council President Jack Keeler and John Lamia. There are also two Democrats and now one independent, Birdsall.But recently, important issues in the borough have seen council members of the same party divided in their decisions on what is the best course of action for the council to take.When the bond issue to pay the town’s $5.7 million share of the $13 million cost to replace the fire house, library, police headquarters and the existing Borough Hall was opposed by Keeler and Lamia, who said the projected costs were too high and had to be lowered, Kelly and Bills joined with the two Democrats on the council, Charles Rooney III and Marc Leckstein, to pass the bond ordinance.And when a petition signed by borough residents forced a referendum on the bond issue the council had passed, Republican Kelly went door to door with Democrats Rooney and Leckstein to ask for votes for approval of the bond issue.Birdsall, 45, a computer programmer and developer, said after the election results were announced that he was “nervous and excited.”“I love this town. I feel I identify with those who are the heart and soul of the town,” he said.In an interview before the election, Birdsall said he was against the discussed noise ordinance that would limit noise levels after 10 p.m.“It’s always been a fun shore town and had the energy of outdoors,” he said.After the election results were read at Borough Hall, 48-year old Kelly, the president of Sea Bright Solar, said he was happy to be able “to see all the projects go through” that he has been working on as a council member. He cited the progress on the new library and beach facility building and municipal complex, which he had championed from the beginning through the final approval by a referendum that permitted a bond issue.Kelly said the streetscape project would begin in the borough next week.This project will include bumping out sections of sidewalks on Ocean Avenue so pedestrians will have a shorter distance to cross the busy highway, and placing decorative street lights, new signage, landscaping and trees, and more benches.Part of the proposal was to eliminate parking on the east side of Ocean Avenue and have head-out-angle parking, where motorists would back into an angled parking spot.Before the election, Kelly said that part of the project, which was being carried out by the state Department of Transportation, was now in question. Tuesday night, he said he was not sure what would be done in regard to it.Frank Lawrence, a staff administrator for the borough, said Wednesday the decision had not yet been made. He said on the state and town level there was support both for including or removing the new parking method in the town.Lawrence said one of the problems with the plans for the street changes, including bicycle lanes on both sides of Ocean Avenue and the new parking method was the narrowness of the street, which could not be changed.
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