By Patty Booth O’Neill
Long Branch — “Everybody has to vote. That base has to be rallied, that base has to be fired up and go vote on May 8, and I know that they will. We are going to get that vote out,” Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider told a packed house on Thursday night.
“I need you to work, I need you to be excited, I need you to spread that excitement. We are all part of this team.”
The Schneider Team held its mayoral kickoff party at the Portuguese Club on Broadway with council incumbents Kate Billings, Michael Sirianni and Joy Bastelli along with newcomers Adam Ponsi and Diana Dos Santos.
Schneider will be facing John Pallone and his team, as well as Avery Grant in the upcoming mayoral election.
Supporters from the Schneider Clean Sweep ticket from the 1990s, Anthony Giordano, David Brown and Michael DeStefano spoke along with supporter Donald Covin.
Master of Ceremonies Giordano spoke about how it takes great strides to make up for 50 years of neglect in the city. “Most of all we need a team that’s competent. We have that. A team that works hard. We have that. And most of all a team that knows what they’re doing,” he said.
DeStefano ran with Schneider on the clean sweep team in 1990. “We were a group of people who really wanted to do a lot for the city of Long Branch. We were full of high hopes which were quickly dashed when John came along and put the F-U in dysfunction.”
An angry DeStefano wondered why Pallone ran for mayor back in 1994 and why he is running this time. He wondered if the team was mistreating him or did he have a beef with Adam?“Nope, somebody just put a bug in his ear and he decided the team was not for him and he was going to go rogue,” he said.
He said he didn’t know who was managing him but “you are not electing John,” he said. “John would never be able to hold another team together, that’s why you need this one.”Brown said that Team Schneider has made Long Branch one of the most desirous cities to live in. “The team has changed the quality of lives of the citizens in this beautiful community.”
Covin said after retiring from teaching he wanted to go to work with the recreation department which led to the building of Manahasset Park. “When I saw what Adam was doing, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this guy really cares about the kids.’”
He spoke about the how there used to be a concern in the city that there weren’t enough recreation programs for kids.
“You go down to Manahasset Creek on any day, the place is packed. More important is this. I’m not a politician, but I do know good people when I see them. These people on the Schneider Team will do the right thing,” Covin said.
Being on the Planning Board, Billings focused on redevelopment. She was mystified about a quote she read in The Link News a few weeks ago from someone who said development in Long Branch must not focus on the oceanfront only.
“This guy can’t be living in Long Branch,” she said, then read a list of projects going on around the city not on the oceanfront.
On Brighton Avenue, there’s the Chabad and the old post office in West End.
Downtown Broadway is also among them. “It’s (Broadway) a huge project and it took us a long time to get to this point, but we are moving forward and they will hopefully be before the Planning Board within the next two months,” she said.
On Third Avenue there’s Pax Plaza, SICA Building, Casey Jones, and the Liquor Store. The list went on. “So we have many projects and development going on not on the oceanfront,” Billings said.
Sirianni spoke about needing everyone’s help and support. “We’ve worked hard to make Long Branch the jewel on the Jersey Shore. I remember Long Branch in her great days and when she stumbled when we had a couple of off years.”
He spoke of keeping Long Branch and its citizens the focal point.
Bastelli wanted everyone to remember how the oceanfront and how Long Branch used to be in the 1990s
“The oceanfront was not a place you wanted to go to with your family and listen to a jazz and blues festival on a hot summer night. Now you can go to concerts on the oceanfront and on Broadway it is safe. I hope you keep that progress in mind and vote for us,” she said.
Dos Santos said she is looking forward to running with the Schneider team. “My parents immigrated from Portugal and I’ve lived in Long Branch for most of my life. Over the last few years we have witnessed our city transform into a beautiful, vibrant city, with new parks with new businesses and new families choosing our city in which to raise their families,” she said.
She said it was the same reasons she chose Long Branch to raise her two girls. “As an immigrant I see first hand how our city is a diverse inclusive community that provides a home for everyone no matter their background.” Said Dos Santos.
Adam Ponsi, a professional engineer in the state of New Jersey and Delaware, has served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the last five years.
He said that as a lifelong resident of Long Branch he has first-hand experience what it was like before Schneider became mayor and how it has drastically improved over the years.
“I’m running for council because I want to help bring Broadway back to life. I want to help bring a pier and ferry service to Long branch. I want to be a part of helping Mayor Adam Schneider finish what he started.” said Ponsi.
“This campaign was kicked off a year ago,” Schneider paced back-and-forth across the stage as he spoke. “I haven’t missed anything then and haven’t missed anything now and there’s not going be any more vacations coming, and there’s no days off. And if you can’t tell, I’m fired up. I’ll keep going,” Schneider said. “I thank everyone for being here and at the big victory party on May 8.”