The Egg Harbor City Lisa Jiampetti grew up in was, in her eyes, the best place to live in Atlantic County. Its streets buzzed with activity, and there was no better place to be on a mid-summer night than the Egg Harbor City Lake.
The years since she was a kid, Jiampetti said, have not been kind. Tough economic times and increased competition in neighboring towns have left much of the city's bustling downtown barren, and, until recently, the lake was little more than an eyesore.
But Jiampetti, 50, never lost faith in her hometown, running for and winning a seat on the City Council in 2007. After a successful six-year term in which she made a big impact on the state of the city, last fall Jiampetti ran for mayor.
"I wanted to better my community," Jiampetti said. "I have a vested interest in Egg Harbor. My friends live here, and my friends own businesses here. My family lives here, and I hope one day my children will want to live here."
Jiampetti defeated Clifford Mays Jr. in a landslide, 1,011 votes to 576, to succeed eight-year incumbent Joseph A. Kuehner Jr. as mayor. She was sworn in Jan. 3.
That Jiampetti decided to run for office came as no surprise to her husband, Michael, who said she has always demonstrated an affinity for service.
"She's just a natural volunteer," he said. "She likes helping people out, and I really think it's great, her being the mayor."
Jiampetti was active in making the city a better place to live as a councilwoman, serving as chairwoman of the city's Parks and Playgrounds Committee. She gave Egg Harbor City Lake a major facelift that has once again made it a destination, and organized citywide cleanup days each year in May.
Now, as mayor, she hopes to continue revitalizing Egg Harbor City and plans to optimize public safety, improve the aesthetics of the town through stronger code enforcement and facilitate the building of the Neighborhoods of Cedar Creek development, which is under construction, among other initiatives.
Jiampetti had been on City Council for two years when Hazel Mueller, with whom she is now close, was elected in 2009. Mueller, who is council president pro tempore, said she was struck by both Jiampetti's ability to get things done, as well as the professional manner in which she does so.
"She knows, really, the heartbeat of the city," Mueller said. "She's not big and loud about it. She just knows what has to be done, and she just takes the bull by the horns and does it in a very professional way."
In addition to her duties as mayor, Jiampetti serves as the after-school program coordinator at Egg Harbor City Community School.
While two of her three sons are grown, her youngest, Matthew, is 16 and a junior at Cedar Creek High School. She always leaves room on her packed calendar for his wrestling meets.
Adding mayorship to that busy mix may make for a lot of responsibility, but Jiampetti is confident she can shoulder that burden, and make Egg Harbor City a better place for it.
"I love Egg Harbor City, and I think it's worth saving," Jiampetti said. "Our goal is to make this the best place to live in Atlantic County."
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