Former Republican 1st District Assemblyman John "Jack" Gibson, 78, of Sea Isle City, has announced he will run for Sea Isle City Council in May. Gibson served a dozen years in the legislature and left office in 2006.

Lee Procida

SEA ISLE CITY -- Former Republican Assemblyman John “Jack” Gibson announced Monday morning that he will run in this spring’s nonpartisan election for City Council.

Gibson, who served a dozen years in the Legislature representing the 1st District and left office in 2006, said he hopes to guide the city as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy and contends with changes to FEMA regulations.

“This coming year might be one of the most important in the history of Sea Isle City,” Gibson said during a brief press conference on the steps of the city’s temporary City Hall.

“FEMA’s proposed elevation maps threaten to change the entire character of our city,” he said. “If we want Sea Isle to remain the family-friendly town we all love, we need to put our best foot forward to get FEMA to fix their maps.”

Gibson, 78, founded Gibson Associates, a civil engineering firm headquartered in neighboring Dennis Township, and is now retired. He was also Cape May County engineer for nine years.

During his time in the Legislature, Gibson sponsored a long list of shore-related bills, including laws that increased the amount the state annually dedicates to beach replenishment and funded a study of Cape May County’s underground water supply.

He said that the preliminary flood maps FEMA has released are scientifically flawed, and they will cause unnecessary problems for homeowners in terms of having to raise homes or pay much higher insurance costs.

“I believe my engineering and legislative background will be an asset to our city as we deal with this issue for the next several months,” he said.

Gibson submitted petitions on Monday to qualify to run in the May election. The deadline to file to run is March 11.

So far, incumbent council members John Divney and Mary Tighe plan to run for re-election, but Councilman Michael McHale said he is not, leaving an opening on the council.

No one else has picked up the paperwork necessary to run, City Clerk Cindy Griffith said Monday afternoon.

Mayor Len Desiderio endorsed Gibson on Monday and said he plans to endorse Divney and Tighe in the future.

“Jack is the right person at the right time,” Desiderio said.

Gibson never served on City Council before, and he said he is likely only seeking one four-year term.

He did serve on the local Board of Education from 1969 to 1973, during which time the board built the elementary school where the city’s offices are now located because Sandy flooded the true City Hall building. Planning and funding the construction of a new city hall will be another major decision Gibson would face if elected.

“We built this school, and we built it high enough,” Gibson said Monday, “otherwise there wouldn’t be a place for city hall right now.”

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