WILDWOOD - Candidate John Roat likened a Tuesday morning candidates' forum, held at the Wildwoods Convention Center, to a job interview.

The job offer will come some time after 8 p.m. Dec. 8 when the polls close following the city's recall election.

Roat will appear first on the ballot that day followed by Commissioner Bill Davenport and Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr, the subjects of the recall. Fourth on the ballot is Al Brannen followed by his running mate, Edward Harshaw, and rounding the list of candidates is Ernesto Salvatico.

All six men took part in Tuesday's forum, sponsored by the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce, which was watched by more than 80 residents and local business people.

"I want to continue to be your mayor," Troiano told the audience as each candidate was given three minutes to introduce himself.

Troiano, 58, was first elected to the three-member City Commission in 1999 and has served as mayor since 2003. He is a lifelong Wildwood resident.

Troiano said it disappointed him when 11 years ago someone told him he was thankful he did not live in Wildwood. "That was a kick in the teeth, a kick in the gut," Troiano said. The words, he said, motivated him to do what he could for Wildwood.

Troiano, an advocate of bringing high-rise hotels to the resort, said his plan was to give the city a more year-round economy or at least a stronger economy for 10 months of the year.

Davenport, 63, is another lifelong resident. "I now live 300 feet from where I was born," Davenport said. The retired firefighter said he remembered selling newspapers as a child, making enough money to help him and his family get through the winter.

His focus, he said, was tourism and helping those who work multiple jobs to meet their needs.

Brannen, 66, has been a resident for 45 years and is a former motel owner with a background in food sales. Brannen said he has three goals in mind including having a performance audit for the city's operations, hiring a business administrator and bringing back the mayor-council form of government with a five-member council.

Harshaw, 60, is also a lifelong resident who currently teaches history at the Cape May County Technical High School.

He served on the city's school board with Davenport and Troiano.

His reasons for running, he said, were simple.

"High taxes. We cannot continue to pay the rate that we are paying," Harshaw said.

Roat, 64, is a former Wildwood Crest resident who moved to the city more than three years ago.

Roat said if he were elected every bill would be heavily scrutinized before it is paid, bonding for projects would be avoided unless necessary and tax abatements would not be given to developers.

Salvatico, 81, moved to the United States in 1964 from Montevideo, Uruguay, and became a citizen in 1970. "I had 10 cent in my pocket. Then I work hard, and my wife work hard," Salvatico said of his desire to succeed in his new country.

He said city residents can no longer afford to pay their bills, and he said property taxes and property assessments needed to be reviewed.

Salvatico also said Wildwood should not be treated as a second-class citizen.

Each of the candidates was asked a series of questions submitted by residents ranging from concerns about the city's tax rate and the possibility of beach fees to the construction office and the implementation of an amusement tax.

Contact Trudi Gilfillian:


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