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What’s next for Sharon?

Former Bayonne Council President Ashe-Nadrowski is not going anywhere

Former City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski departed from her position on the council in June. Photos by Daniel Israel.

Former Bayonne City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski has recently returned to the public eye at her old stomping grounds.

Ashe-Nadrowski has been present at the August and September council meetings in the council chambers at City Hall. While she did not speak in August, her mere presence was noted by members of the council when defending the pause on most major residential redevelopment even amid recent planning approvals.

In September, Ashe-Nadrowski actually spoke on a few issues throughout the meeting. This was the first time she addressed the new council since the May municipal election.

This year, Ashe-Nadrowski challenged Mayor James Davis for his office. While she ultimately came up unsuccessful, that has not deterred her from remaining a voice in the community.

Former council president returns to the chambers

After the September 21 meeting of the City Council, the Bayonne Community News discussed with Ashe-Nadrowski her future in Bayonne. In the council chambers, she told BCN that, looking back, she was proud of her decision to run for Mayor.

At her last meeting on the council in June, amid heartfelt farewells, some residents asked her to come back and serve as a watchdog figure for the new council after her departure. When asked if Ashe-Nadrowski was following that path, she said she was only vocalizing her thoughts as someone who lives in the city.

“I’m still a resident,” Ashe-Nadrowski. “I’m still a homeowner in Bayonne. I still love Bayonne. I certainly ran because I thought things needed to change.”

Running on a campaign focused on including more public input from the community, increasing transparency and restoring integrity to what she described as a “broken” City Hall, encouraging smarter redevelopment amid the local boom, seeking to reduce rising crime especially domestic violence, and addressing various quality of life problems, as well as other issues, Ashe-Nadrowski still feels things need to improve. She continues to champion for these causes in Bayonne even as just a resident.

Ashe-Nadrowski said that she only asked for additional details on a few topics at the September meeting. She could have addressed a number of things, but opted only to push the council for more information in some cases.

“I really just asked for clarification tonight,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I could have spoken on a lot of things. But I when I felt that the response was little bit misleading, I just wanted clarification on that.”

In Ashe-Nadrowski’s concession of the May election, she said she planned to stay involved in the community. When asked if this was following through on that promise, she acknowledged that was part of it.

“That is true,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.

Ashe-Nadrowski won’t rule out running again

Briefly reflecting on the election in retrospect, Ashe-Nadrowski said she was proud that she ran. While she sought to be elected, she would rather this result than to have remained on the council under the Davis Administration.

“Looking back, I mean yeah, I was looking for a different outcome,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “But would I have changed that and not ran? Absolutely not.”

Ashe-Nadrowski reminded that Davis only avoided a runoff by literally hundreds of votes. It was far from a total mandate for the incumbent Mayor.

“It wasn’t a resounding or overwhelming turnout for Mayor Davis,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “He won with about 50 point something percent. There was only about 150 votes away from a runoff.”

In the wake of the election, Ashe-Nadrowski said she has noticed the Davis Administration enact policies and take credit for things that were part of her campaign. She said she doesn’t mind that at all, stating it was something Davis had done before and that the policies benefit the city.

“I think, quite honestly, what I notice is a lot of things I actually documented and wrote a plan out for in my campaign, they’re executing a lot of that,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I’d be very happy if they read my campaign’s weekly solutions, if they took them all and implemented them. I’d very happy. I wouldn’t mind if they stole those ideas. Because they are ideas that are good for Bayonne and good for the residents.”

When asked if she would ever run again, Ashe-Nadrowski wasn’t taking the option off the table. However, she doesn’t need the title of being an elected official to stay involved.

“I would never rule it out,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.

Former City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski addresses the new council on a few issues in September.

Differing leadership styles?

When asked if residents could expect to see her at future council meetings and other events, Ashe-Nadrowski confirmed that she wasn’t going anywhere. She may likely be back in the council chambers at the next meeting in October.

“I’ll be around,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.

Ashe-Nadrowski does not plan to act as a watchdog figure for the council, only to address the council as a resident of the city when she feels she needs to. However, with the vastly different tones between the old council and the new council, it is likely she will engage with current City Council President Gary La Pelusa again on topics in the future.

“To each his own,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I was the Council President who just wanted to let the people have their say. I didn’t want people to feel like I was limited, that I didn’t want to hear their opinions, that their opinions weren’t important, and that I didn’t have time for them to hear their opinions.”

Since the new council was sworn in and took office in July, public comment has been limited from to five minutes, and virtual commenting on the Tetherview video streams was not permitted. In response to claims from the new council that the ordinance permitting the five minute rule was adopted under the previous council with Ashe-Nadrowski, she said that it was only enacted now under this council.

“I had push back from Councilman [Neil] Carroll and Councilman La Pelusa when I was on the council, asking me to not allow people to talk so long,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I told them I didn’t think that was right. I thought, ‘That’s my job. How can I answer people’s questions or understand their issues if I don’t listen to them or if I didn’t give them the opportunity to speak?’ That’s what public comment is to me.”

Looking ahead and staying involved

Ashe-Nadrowski said it was the job of elected officials to listen to residents. She also noted that the previous council used to answer resident questions and engage in dialogue during public comment, rather than the no question policy of the current council.

“That’s what public comment is about,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “That’s the job of government, to listen to the people, not to listen to the people in five minutes when maybe they have multiple things they want to talk about, especially considering they don’t give any answers. That was another thing I did different. If I could provide an answer to a resident, I absolutely would.”

Overall, Ashe-Nadrowski stands by her recent mayoral campaign and overall political career, looking to continue to accomplish positive change within the community from the other side of the dais. Lately, that appears to be true as she is coming up in conversations everywhere about everything from cannabis regulations, to funding aimed to combat domestic violence, as well as the upcoming November school board election and the Fifth Annual Bayonne Irish Festival.

At some recent council meetings, residents have brought up the idea of voting against council members in the next election and even launching an effort for a recall election against Davis in July of 2023, although there was no mention of Ashe-Nadrowski. However, it appears the chance for Ashe-Nadrowski to face off against Davis again may arise if those seeking to hold a recall election are successful in getting a petition signed by 25 percent of registered voters from the May election.

However, efforts to hold recall elections are often unsuccessful, as was the attempt to recall Davis back in 2016. Regardless, it’s evident that Ashe-Nadrowski has stuck around the local scene and is not going anywhere.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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