Rumson’s Democratic Council Candidates: A Chat with Marnie Doherty

Marnie Doherty
Photo/Marnie Doherty

In the race for the two seats that are up for grabs on Rumson Borough Council, four candidates are vying for the wins. Two are Republican incumbents. Two are Democrats and newcomers to the local political ballot.

Of the two Democratic challengers, one is a familiar face in the community, known for spearheading local causes, contributing established are non-profits and being involved in various community organizations.

That candidate is Marnie Doherty.

Stressing that her and her running mate, Sarah Orsay, are very much a team package deal on the ballot, Marnie offered Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect a glimpse into her own background and local government perspective in the following Q&A chat … 

Name, address, age:

Marnie Doherty, 50

*With the knowledge that public servants’ addresses are public information, the candidate asked that her address not be published in this article.* 

Where did you grow up?

Primarily Santa Barbara, California.  I moved to the Bay Area (specifically Marin County) my sophomore year in high school and graduated from Marin Academy. My parents still reside in Marin County.

How long have you been a Rumson resident? If you left and returned, explain when and why.

My family moved to Rumson in February of 2004.  We have lived here continuously for 14.75 years.

Any past experience on a local board or commission, organization or governing body? If not in Rumson, where, in what capacity and for how long?

• Board member and president of Children’s Cottage Cooperative preschool in Marin County California.

• Board member of Rumson Education Foundation — chaired Rumson Kitchen Tour twice, co-created Dance with your Darling, board member during era of new 8thgrade science lab

• Board member of RFHRHS Foundation Board — in charge of granting requests by teachers, raised money with fundraising events specifically parent gatherings

• PTO liason for Forrestdale School – chaired Forrestdale Follies 4 years in a row, currently serving on board of Running and Winning, a political workshop for high school juniors introducing them to the importance of community service while also experiencing the power of the individual voice in the preservation of our democracy (overseen by League of Women Voters, AAUW, Junior League of Monmouth County and Hadassah).

Volunteer work? Community organizations?

• Extensive tutoring experience in San Francisco and Silicon Valley with underprivileged youth and recently released youth from incarceration

• 10 years teaching CCD at Holy Cross Church in Rumson and Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven

• 10 years coaching soccer and softball – Rumson Recreation and currently head coach of Peninsula Striking Eagles (premier 2004 girls U15)

• Multiple years on committee for Monmouth County Historical Association fundraising efforts, RED luncheon, Tavernfest

• More than 10 years served as “class mom” at Bacich School (Marin County, CA) Deane Porter and Forrestdale schools in Rumson

• Multiple years den and troop leader for Rumson Boys and Girls Scouts

• Multi-year fundraising chair for annual Boy Scout Wreath selling and Girl Scout cookie selling

• Currently a member of music ministry (Contemporary Music Ensemble) at Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven – have been rehearsing and singing at mass bi-monthly for seven years

If you are running to fill an unexpired term, why did you opt to run to fill in for a short time rather than full term? Local politics can prove to be more overwhelming than anticipated. If you are running for a full term, elected and find the job isn’t what you expected, is it your intention to complete your term, regardless?

I am running, along with Sarah Orsay, for the full, three-year Borough Council term. It was always my intention to complete the term when I was asked to run.

There is no way of knowing exactly the time and effort the job will require, but I’m excited to learn the responsibilities of the job first hand and looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective and renewed energy to this council.

There are things to be accomplished in the short and long hand; and Sarah and I, if elected, intend to get started on new projects immediately!

What do you do for a living, for how long and how do you think your professional career/skills will make you an asset as a public servant?

I am currently a portrait photographer.  I have been doing that professionally both part and full time for over 22 years. Before that I was in sales and marketing in both High Tech Publishing and broadcast radio in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years.

My ability to communicate, problem solve and complete projects are all things I think are assets to a job in public service — especially in a small town situation where energy, enthusiasm, organizational skills and dedication are required to make a difference.

If this is your first go at public office, what prompted you to run?

It has been in the back of my mind for years. I had a Rumson friend tell me 10 years ago that I should run for mayor, because I was involved in so many different aspects of community life.

I was humbled, but laughed at the prospect. The current state of American partisan politics is probably what convinced me to put my hat in the ring for councilperson this year.

Also, the fact that two of my four children are grown and out of the house leaves me a little more time to focus on Rumson politics.  I have for years been dismayed at my lack of choice on the Rumson ballot.

My friend (and running mate!), Sarah Orsay, convinced me that I had the right skill set for the job and that our different but complementary traits would make great assets to our currently very homogenous council.

Which U.S. president is your political role model? Why, specifically?

Too hard for me to name just one!  I love history and was a political science major in college.

There are accomplishments by presidents in both my lifetime and before it that I find extremely admirable.  I am always in awe of anyone who feels they have the wherewithal to be the leader of the free world.

I am most impressed by presidents whose oratory skills bring me to tears and inspire me to be a better person, patriot and volunteer in my community. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have given me those moments with their speeches.

What is your favorite charitable organization? Why?

I could never name a favorite. Helping those in need will always be at the top of my list so local charities I admire and have given some time to are Lunch Break and 180 Turning Lives Around.

I am always a fan of charitable organizations geared toward education, and that includes the Monmouth County Historical Association.

I think history is critical in teaching the future generations about where we came from, why we’re doing what we’re doing now and creating the spark for future civic and cultural development.

Covenant House is another organization that always has my attention. Young people are the future of our country and CH’s goal is to find each every one of  America’s homeless youth and bring them to safety while teaching them critical life skills while leading towards the education they require to become responsible members of society.  The leader of Covenant House is a Fair Haven resident. I am in awe of his fundraising abilities and the size of his heart.

Which local or regional official/representative (municipal governing body member, senator, assemblyman, congressman) do you admire most? Why?

I have always been a fan of Frank Pallone.  During his years in Congress, I have been impressed by his legislative accomplishments that have been geared to the protection and restoration of environmental resources and his dedication to making healthcare available and affordable to all.

Health and the environment are what will ensure the future generations to survive and prosper.  I have met him briefly while photographing fundraisers in Monmouth County and his people skills are extensive. He is happy to meet constituents. He cares about them.  I believe he truly wants what’s best for New Jerseyans.

Rumson Borough Council members are completely uncompensated volunteers. There is no pay involved. It is also a very time-consuming job that requires transparency and accessibility to the public.

What benefit is there for you, specifically, besides the obvious, in serving the town in which you live?

I moved to Rumson when my oldest of four children was 8 years old.  My youngest is now 14. The feeling of warmth and community that I experienced when I arrived here was immense. I want to be a borough council member that brings that feeling back to residents both old and new.

This is a special town, There are 7,500 residents, each unique in his or her own way, with their own needs and aspirations. It is a councilperson’s job to find out what those needs are and help direct constituents in the direction they’re headed.

What are your key platform issues? AND/OR What do you think are the most critical issues currently facing Rumson residents? Why did you choose these issues as focal points?  

The candidates chose to answer as a team, as they stressed they are in the race to tackle the same issues together.

(Click here for their uniform answer, which appears in Sarah Orsay’s Q&A as the answer to the last two questions.)