Amy Quinn defines what makes Asbury Park New Jersey’s LGBTQ epicenter

Amy Quinn (left) with wife, Heather, and son Jensen
Amy Quinn (left) with wife, Heather, and son Jensen. Photo by Victor Bubadias.

Quinn discovered she she could make a difference politically

Amy Quinn’s journey from North Jersey resident to Jersey Shore advocate and Asbury Park Deputy Mayor happened in almost a pre-destined fashion. She fell in love with the stunning architecture and gorgeous buildings the town has to offer. Then she took a closer look and realized that she could make a difference politically there and dove in headfirst.

She has risen through the political ranks. One can find Quinn fighting the good fight at a City Council meeting, marching in the Jersey Pride Parade, and hitting the pinball machines at the Silverball Museum on the boardwalk. Summer is always an action packed time for Quinn. In addition to her Deputy Mayor duties, she raises her son Jensen here with wife Heather. But she found some time to share everything that drew her to Asbury Park and why the LGBTQ community is so important.

Michael Cook: When did your love affair with Asbury Park truly begin? 

Amy Quinn: I was living in Jersey City and looking to move near the Jersey shore. I was working for child protective services, on a break from law school. And I couldn’t afford a lot. I made an appointment for a real estate agent to take me around, and I fell in love with Asbury Park’s architecture immediately, specifically the Santander. I think that is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. And I still own a unit there.

You made your way to Asbury Park but then decided to take the next step and participate in local government. What do you think made you take that step? 

Amy Quinn is deputy mayor in Asbury Park, NJ
Amy Quinn is deputy mayor in Asbury Park, NJ.

AQ: I tell this story all the time to kids. I was running around Deal Lake and a truck was loading geese into it. I read later that they were gassing the geese as a method to deal with an overpopulation issue. I think I threatened to sue just about everyone and then met Tom Piviniski, the head of our Shade Tree Commission. He asked me to join the Shade Tree Commission and I did. We researched humane ways to deal with an excessive geese population. I’m still on the Shade Tree Commission. I never had a particular desire to get into politics and probably never would have, if not for that event happening.

Am I correct in saying that, developers notwithstanding, Asbury Park is truly back with or without investors?  

AQ: I often deal with a mentality of essentially, we should just be so glad they are here, whether it’s Istar, Madison Marquette or “insert the developer.” I think there was a time when we needed to be so grateful they were here. And I think we need to acknowledge that. But we have reached a turning point and we don’t need to accept every project. We can finally be a bit pickier—and we should be.

So summer favorite places to go or things to do in Asbury Park—what are some of yours? 

AQ: The beach, of course. I can also lose hours in the pinball museum; checking out a movie at the Showroom, picking up donuts from Purple Glaze, or books at Words Bookstore. Every week in the summer my family loves the summer concert series in Springwood Avenue Park and the performance art on 2nd Avenue beach. I take staycations. And I feel like I live every day where other people go on vacation.

How do you respond to those who say the town has “changed” and does not have the same grit it used to? 

AQ: I agree and that isn’t great. We are seeing many of Asbury Park’s pioneers being priced out. We keep trying to create and pass policies that try to protect some of these people. But we can’t protect them all. It can be depressing to see.

Your family has now made Asbury Park home. What is it about Asbury Park that makes it truly “home” for you? 

AQ: It has always felt like home to me, even when I first stepped a toe in it. But I do think people don’t realize that you can raise your family here. I wouldn’t think of raising my kid where diversity, art, and culture were less important to the community.

In your opinion, how does the LGBTQ community of Asbury Park make up such a large fabric of the community’s charm? 

AQ: An LGBTQ community is a sample of the diverse other communities where people have come from, and so, sort of by definition, that keeps things interesting.

What’s next for you in our town? Do you think we may be calling you Madame Mayor one day? 

AQ: (laughs) I get asked that a lot. John is a great Mayor and I really like my role as Deputy Mayor, and kind of defining it in my own way.  I can yell “happyfuckingpride” at the Pride Parade and people call John Moor to complain that I cursed at the Pride Parade.

What gives you pride? 

AQ: Equality.