A petition calling for the governing body to reverse its decision and provide access through electronic means so municipal residents can participate in municipal meetings was presented at Borough Hall today to distribute to Mayor Loretta Gluckstein and each of the six council members.
Over recent months, several residents have pointed out access was readily provided and was very popular with local residents, drawing more residents to virtual than in attendance at regular council sessions.
Action came after Council, tied in their vote on whether to offer meetings virtually, and Mayor Gluckstein broke the tie by voting against the access.
The petition, started this past Saturday and by Thursday morning was signed by 139 local residents, had been circulated by a newly formed trio representing Atlantic Highlanders for Equal Access to Democracy (AHEAD).
The trio who formed AHEAD, Mark Fisher, Jim Krauss and Mary Trank, decided soon after the January 27 Council meeting to initiate a petition asking for the reconsideration of the split decision.
After presenting the petition, the group stated that their “work is complete for now. It is up to our elected officials to make a decision; listen to 139 constituents who disagree with their Jan. 27 decision, or ignore 139 of their constituents.” The petition calls for a resumption of Zoom for next Thursday’s meeting and thereafter until the health risk passes.
The Mayor could also reverse the January 27 decision alone under the guise of assuring resident health and safety. AHEAD trio will continue to provide up-to-date information.
Council members who voted against holding in-person meetings, and in favor of continuing ZOOM access were Jon Crowley, Lori Hohenleitner and Brian Dougherty. Those that voted in favor of going back to in person only meetings were Brian Boms, Steve Borrichia and James Murphy; As stated previously, the 3-3 tie was broken by the Mayor to return to in-person meetings starting on Thursday, Feb. 10.
After requesting comment from the Mayor and all Council-Members, Councilwoman Lori Hohenleitner was the first to respond saying "Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate the members of the public that organized and signed the petition. There should be no barriers to public participation in borough meetings. After all, we serve the residents of Atlantic Highlands"