Highlands Virtual Mayoral Debate – updated

John Schneider of Jersey Bay Shore interviewed all three Highlands mayoral candidates.

Highlights Video #1 (Cliff Notes) – you can see the full videos by clicking below:

What is going on with Highlands?

Frank: “I do town hall meetings to let people know what’s going on, there is another one Oct 28th, residents will be given awards for their service over the last year.”

Becky: “We are (the council) are going through the same issues as the residents with FEMA and grants”, “We need a new borough hall”

Doug: “We have a lack of leadership & transparency post Sandy”

What are the most important issues?

Frank “Flooding”

Becky “Flooding”

Doug “Stabilize Taxes”

Why would YOU make a good Mayor

Frank  “I’m a leader”

Becky “I know all the in’s and out’s of the borough & all the players involved”

Doug “I’m a problem solver”

How do you plan to reduce taxes?

Frank “Development, we need more people to split the tax bill”

Becky “Shared Services”

Doug “Get people back in their homes and maybe re-assess the High School”

Economic Development

Frank “If you build it they will come”, “Myself and other council members are trying to get businesses from CVS to relocate to Highlands”

Becky “We need to mitigate flooding before we can tackle getting businesses in town.

Doug “Look at the BID, there seems to be a disconnect between BID’s mission statement and what they do” “Needs to streamline mercantile process, uses Rick Hennessey as example.

Shadow Lawn

Frank “Thought it was best for the town’

Becky “I was enticed by high rateables” “The current mayor streamlined it and I don’t know why we had to meet July 3rd

Doug “Failed transparency on what was actually happening”


Frank – “We need grant writers” “We’re getting a professional Grant writer with the FEMA money”

Becky “We already do have grant writers internally.”  “We have in the past been very successful at writing grants i.e. the fire truck they just got” “If we ever needed to get a grant for something beyond our expertise we would just contract out using our existing Engineering Firm”

Doug “We need professional grant writers”

Vacant Buildings

Frank “I have residents that want to buy vacant residents and use them for commercial uses” – Uses Rick Hennessey as an example,  “We need to do what the town needs instead of being upset over additional cars or tow trucks on Bay Ave”

Becky “It’s a process, how do we know they are really abandoned, if we demo them we lose the rateable for the house and only get rateables for the land”

Doug “Wants a Housing Advocate assigned to assess the properties and see what needs to be done”

What is going to be done to bring back Renters & Home Owners

Frank “I voted on eliminating permit fees but was voted down by the council” “Fielded a call from someone on the First Aid that was told by her contractor that it was going to take 6 months due to Highlands back log of processing permits, I called the construction office and had them streamline it, as mayor you need to be able to take the phone calls.”

Becky “I was on the housing committee for recovery, I found out we can send people to the Sea Bright Recovery Center and they won’t turn Highlands Residents away” “We just need to work with people”

Doug “Help the rental properties owners get their properties back together and signed off on for rentals again”
What is going to happen with the Borough Hall/PD & First Aid?

Frank “We should look at Shore Drive at existing property the town owns, we’d be out of the flood zone & our insurance premiums would be lower.”

Becky “We should look at existing property owned by the town on Shore Drive”

Doug “We need to look at going back to the existing Borough Hall, a new one is a 10 year goal, homeowners should be a first priority.”

What’s your plan on attracting new residents and retaining old ones?

Frank “Have to have reasons for people to come back” “Fix the flooding and Inflow problems”

Becky “I beg people to hang in there, assessments are going to go through the roof” “I encourage people to stay”

Doug “There are going to be an influx of new people from NY, young couples, a housing advocate can help them if they are going to be building new”

Highlights Video #2 (Cliff Notes to follow)

Highlights Video #3 Cliff Notes

Ethics & Values

Frank: No relatives working for the borough, doesn’t believe in nepotism and infers the other candidates do engage in nepotism or cronyism.

Becky; “No vote on the table is worth ruining my name over”, “Easy to talk to”, “Keeps priority list very short and do-able”

Doug: “My father was a school principal and we used to have dinner round table discussions, taught to respect others points of views”

How Did Sandy Impact You?

Frank: Had to be rescued, lived at the shelter for 17 days, his house and wife’s house were damaged. Was tentative about bringing little kids back downtown for a while after Sandy.

Becky: “My house wasn’t affected, but my parents house was, my brother on valley and my fiance’s daughter’s house was affected”, “My parents, their dog, Charlie’s 14 year old daughter came to live with me.”

Doug: “We moved back into our house the night Sandy hit, after being displaced from a fire. But everything was okay. When we had to raise to comply with FEMA after being substantially damaged from the fire, we were cursing FEMA, but after Sandy and having no damage, we were thanking FEMA.”

How much time can you commit?

Frank: about 20 hours, normally 4 – 5 meetings a week

Becky: It’s really a full time job, last year I figured I did 800 hours for the year.

Doug: It’s a full time job, I’m in a position where I can and I’m willing to commit full time.

What experience do you have to be Mayor?

Frank: “Life Experiences” “I went through the same things as everybody else, lost my home, wife’s family home.. all said and done a 50-60k loss”

Becky: “All the committees I’ve been on: FD, council, BID liaison, Henry Hudson School Board, Kavoojian field restoration committee, liaison for parks & rec’s etc.”

Doug: “Business experience at Caribbean International, proper note taking, booking keeping, contracts..”

How are you different than the other 2 candidates:

Frank: “I’m better than the other two.” “You can choose the guy who lead you through the last 2 storms and the blizzard before that  or try something new and see where that gets you.”

Becky: “I’m a woman, they’re men” “I have the ability to listen, honesty is right there and integrity” “I’m not a yes person.”

Doug: “I am in leadership and know how to delegate, whereas Rebecca Kane is spread too thin on too many committees to effectively lead” “Frank has lack of transparency”

Vision for your term as Mayor:

Frank: “Stabilize rateables, go after abandoned homes.”

Becky: “Build a new Borough Hall or at least be ready to break ground”

Doug: “Implement the vision of community outlined in the committee meetings.”

What will you do better to communicate to residents?

Frank: “Get more involved in more groups.”

Becky:  “Office Hours” “Not everyone has the Internet”

Doug: “Open Door Policy, improve on the web site”

Why should residents vote for you?

Frank: “3 years as Mayor, 3 years on council” “I’ve been a leader, lived in the shelter after the storm” “I’m downtown more than anybody else” “You know how to get in touch with me” “I’m not a Partisan guy, I work with Pallone and Christie” “I’ve earned it”

Becky: “Vote for someone who has the interests of the Community at large” “I have no ties with developers or builders” “Wants to make town better, clean walkable streets, safe, great schools”

Doug: “It’s time for a change” “Someone who wants to progressively evolve Highlands”


  1. Watching ii now. a must watch if you care about our town! so far two candidates stand out as great team members to restore and reawaken our town. one is lagging very far behind despite his current elecetd role.


  2. “Becky “I was enticed by high rateables” “The current mayor streamlined it and I don’t know why we had to meet July 3rd”” – here’s Becky throwing Nolan under the bus! Time she grew some balls. Too little, to late? We’ll see.


  3. “Frank “I’m a leader”” – with no one following

    “Becky “I know all the in’s and out’s of the borough & all the players involved”” – half of whom should be dismissed. Gotta use that knowledge to actually DO something

    “Doug “I’m a problem solver”” – we’ve got many many problems. Hope you can solve a quarter of them!

    I just can’t help myself! I’m beginning to understand sports commentators!


  4. Can anyone tell me what the elevation is for that property on Shore Drive? Did the firehouse flood during Sandy? I’m a little hesitant to believe that same people that told us high rises on the hill would be perfectly safe when they say it’s “out of the flood plain.”

    I understand the elevation of Shore Drive varies. But if they keep telling us future storms will be worse, wouldn’t it be reasonable to believe that even that area of Shore Drive could be prone to future flooding?

    I’ll have to watch this portion to hear the full story because the cliff notes makes it sound shitty for the people at the head of the line. Frank “Fielded a call from someone on the First Aid that was told by her contractor that it was going to take 6 months due to Highlands back log of processing permits, I called the construction office and had them streamline it, as mayor you need to be able to take the phone calls.” I wonder if her permits were found under a box in the corner of the Solution Center. *drink* And way to go…bump people who were waiting and move someone to the head of the line.


    • its probably the same elevation as everywhere else. Fire House *did* flood, it took a little over a foot inside. (The water was almost over the wheels of the fire truck). The water was coming up Miller hill and covered the corners of Shore/Miller during the storm.


    • Thanks! I know plenty of places along Shore flooded, but some did not because they are up higher next to the hill. Just wondering how something that flooded during Sandy is “out of the flood plane.”

      I think I have my answer. 🙂


  5. TRANSPARENCY STARTS NOW!!!! Thank You Highlands Blog for laying all the issues on the table in plain black & white – and for providing this script of real questions asked and the actual answers given by all 3 Mayoral candidates.

    I would like to comment and ask more questions after reading these answers given.

    RE: Why would YOU make a good Mayor?
    “I’m a leader”, and “knowing all the ins & outs of the borough and all the key players”. That’s a travesty in itself. Dingus summed it up best with Tammaray Hall, but if that is true then why hasn’t Highlands seen RESULTS – especially given the fact of all the committees and boards that Nolan and Kane have been sitting on all these years?

    RE: Economic Development
    BID is also known as HBP – the Highlands Business Partnership

    RE: Grants
    “Grant writers internally ( for the fire truck)”, and “getting one from FEMA money”.
    Where’s the FEMA money? Who wrote that grant? Who’s focusing on grants out there and thinking out of the box to identify and secure funds for the whole of Highland and its residents vs. an internal wish list of the council?

    RE: Bringing back renters and home owners
    It took 1 year and a WTF ! post in Facebook for Nolan to streamline a permit process for ONE resident. What if you’re not a First Aid member? Do you get the same rubber stamp? “Send people to the Sea Bright Recovery Center”. Becky, we both were involved with FEMA’s recovery workshop for HOUSING – why not send them to a Highlands Housing Resource Center, the very project we as a committee got approved? Sea Bright will take care of its own first. Highlands residents will most likely get brochures and website links to deal with the red tape on their own if they turn to Sea Bright.

    RE: attracting new residents and retaining old ones
    “Begging people to stay” and ” fix the fooding” is not the solution when there is zero equity for many Highlands home owners. How can assessments go through the roof when rateables are a formula of equity, zoning and the means and ability to pay? 0x?=0. A housing advocate with a professional grant writer for both new and old owners will restore, and quite honestly also create, the lack of eqity that Highlands taxpayers are dealing with.


    • Anyone can say they are a leader. Explain exactly how you are a leader. If you want to run for mayor, get out to the whole town and tell us who you are. We want someone who can actually do something not just say they can.

      I am willing to listen, if you can tell me something that the other two haven’s said already. I am not looking for hot topics that can get people boiling. I want actual solutions.

      And how exactly are you going to re-asses the high school? This is a regional school, not just Highlands.

      I think new blood is what we need, however, no viable plan of action is not.

      How about having a forum sometime where questions can be asked and answered.


    • I can’t come see you, I am working and then have a meeting until probably 9. I can call over the weekend unless you plan on being somewhere else, let me know.


  6. Mayor Nolan, I called you twice when I had permit problems, left you two messages, and you never got back to me. Maybe you returned one person’s call, but how many others did you ignore????


  7. The best political Statement during a Campaign ever, came from Ronald Reagan:
    Are you better off now then you where 4 years ago?

    I would expand that for Highlands:
    Are you better off than you where 4-3-2-1-or even a few months ago?


    • Sadly, I think most of Highlands is not.. and I think there is going to be an influx of additional people walking away over the next few years as the reality of insurance premiums rising egregiously and the lack of “grants” due to red tape and bureaucracy. Then add in the tax bills that are going to have to rise in order to pay for the PD, school etc. If we (the town of Highlands) want things to be better we are going to have to think creatively and think of different ways to skin the cat so to speak, because what we have been doing isn’t working.


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