PHOTO: Acting Governor Kim Guadagno helped out at Fireman's Fair in Atlantic Highlands. Credit: Tracey Abby-White
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – Acting Governor Kim Guadagno once again flipped hamburgers and put hot dogs on buns for the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department Friday night, but there’s no indication whether she’ll be making any announcement about any future runs for office.
The acting Governor was at the annual Fireman’s Fair at the invitation of Jack Archibald, GOP candidate for Mayor in November, and Jane Frotton, Chairman of the borough GOP and a friend of Guadagno.
When Guadagno was running for Monmouth County Sheriff many years ago, she asked Frotton for hints on what to do to get elected. Frotton, a long time volunteer at the Fair, told her they needed volunteers in the food booth, and the Monmouth Beach resident dutifully showed up and took her turn at the grill. Since she was elected Lieutenant Governor, she has mentioned the encounter in many of her talks around the state.
When she notified Frotton and Archibald she’d accept the invitation to do a repeat performance, both said they were surprised and delighted. “With such a busy schedule, and so many people clamoring to see her, we’re delighted that she’s such a fan of our community and our fire department,” Frotton said.
Frotton said Guadagno was anxious to re-visit the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Harbor which suffered more than $20 million in damage during Super Storm Sandy; the Lieutenant Governor made several trips to the borough during the early recovery of the harbor and was instrumental in getting SeaStreak service up and running within a week of the storm. The borough has received more than $18 million in FEMA dollars for the harbor's rebuilding efforts.
Friday, the acting Governor arrived at the Fair at the Harbor shortly after 6 p.m. and stayed for close to two hours, at first mingling with the crowd, stopping to buy some chances at one of the booths, then, donning a blue and white striped apron with an anchor on top given her by Archibald, took her turn at the grill along with other volunteers. She also shed the apron for a Fireman’s tee shirt when presented with one, but continued flipping hot dogs and stirring sauerkraut while exchanging greeting with those who recognized her and came to say hello.
But when asked whether this year’s visit meant, as when she was here before successfully winning election as Sheriff, she was running for any office, namely, the gubernatorial election in 2016 or earlier should Gov. Christie resign to continue his run for the Presidential nomination, the acting Governor flashed a smile and said, “I love my job. I love being Lieutenant Governor.” When asked what she thought of Christie running for the presidential GOP nomination, she flashed another grin and responded, “I think he’d make a wonderful President; I think he’s ready, and I‘m happy for him that he’s fulfilling a life long dream.”
Guadagno also made it a point to stop at the Chilango’s booth where Mexican food was being served. The Highlands restaurant, which just opened a second restaurant, LA PLAYA By Chilangos, on Beachway in Keansburg, was heavily damaged during Super Storm Sandy, and turned to Guadagno for assistance. She was able to cut through red tape and have his business opened again within days of the storm.
Mayor Fred Rast, who provided security for the Governor’s visit in conjunction with the NJ State Police who accompanied her, said he was delighted she came to the Fair and showed once again her affection for the community and its people. “I think the world of her,” Rast said, “and I’d support her anywhere and anyhow I could for anything.”
He took exception, however, to Republicans who he said, came down to the Fair just for the “photo op” with the Governor and left “before I even escorted her back to her car. I’m disgusted with the group, the firemen needed help at the booth because we had record crowds, and they left immediately after the photo ops. I just hate phonies.”