Unless you have been living under a rock, you know Asbury Park named a new leader earlier this month.

Mayor Ed Johnson generously took the time out of his busy calendar to answer some “off messaging” questions about the interesting, energetic and layered Ed we wouldn’t be familiar with from council meetings and dry politico events.

TBP:  As a Jersey Boy born and bred, what did you learn while living in New Mexico while attending college?

Mayor:  New Mexico was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  The people, the culture and my education (book and real life) are with me to this very day. 

Ever heard the phrase “The west is a place where a young man or women goes to prove themselves” – that was my experience.  It gave me an understanding of the importance of valuing people, saying what you mean, looking someone in the eye and being an active member of a small community.  At the edge of town there was nothing but desert so you had to get along.

TBP:  Working at Brookdale, what do the students teach you? 

Mayor:  Brookdale is all about individuals who are looking for something better – to improve.  It is amazing to me to see some of these individuals work hard to overcome challenges and eventually walk across the stage to get a diploma and begin a new life.

TBP:  What do you do to relax?

Mayor:  My favorite activity is laying out at the beach or pool.  I find it most relaxing.  In high school and college I was a lifeguard / WSI. 

TBP:  What are your hobbies? 

Mayor:  Swimming, biking, watching the NFL – I am a rabid Washington Redskins Fan.  I picked up golf about two years ago because of my brothers’-in-law and nephew.

TBP:  I understand you enjoy cooking, too.  What’s your specialty?

Mayor:  I make a mean macaroni-n-cheese and during the summer Thai BBQ ribs.  I like to try different recipes.  I have learned that homemade bread (which mostly resembles a rock) is not my strong point.

TBP:  Yum.  Is there a talent you wish you had?

Mayor:  I wish I could sing. I can’t carry a note to save my life. 

TBP:  Me either.  If you could have only one: wealth, blinding beauty or live to be 125, what would you choose?

TBP:  That’s a hard one.  Probably live to be 125, in good health.  I had a great aunt who was born in 1898 and lived into her 80’s.  The things that she saw invented and the advances she saw in society were amazing.  I would like to experience a similar life span – although, I seem to be well on my way, being born way last century. 

TBP:  What was a mistake you have made in life and what did you learn from it?

Mayor:  Trying to hide from myself.  For a long time I tried hard to live a lie to keep other people happy.  It cost me very dearly.  I hurt the people I cared most about and myself. I learned how to be comfortable with myself and proud of whom I am.

TBP:  That’s a mistake a lot of people make.  And brave of you to discuss. 

Part Two next week, our Mayor how he manages challenges and his greatest weakness.