County executive candidate Clifton Sudler, a Democrat, said unemployment and Atlantic County’s persistently low ranking on the Kids Count survey are two major issues affecting the county.
Sudler, a 22-year veteran of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Department, also said that his opponent — three-term executive Dennis Levinson, a Republican — has managed county finances a little too well and, if elected, he would use some of the surplus money to create jobs.
“I believe that the county can do more to help fight the unemployment. There’s over 100 positions unfilled that the county has that are just sitting there open,” Sudler said at an editorial board meeting at The Press of Atlantic City. “Also, the county has $15 million-plus in surplus money after the end of every budget. Why can’t we use that to create jobs or help stimulate the economy?”
Sudler said, if elected, he would try to help encourage some type of family entertainment along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, similar to the amusements in Ocean City and Wildwood.
“We could have the best of both worlds,” he said. “We could have casinos and still have family entertainment. (The Boardwalk) should be full of stores from one end to the other — amusement piers, water parks, miniature golf.”
Sudler recently had to change jobs within the Sheriff’s Office because the Federal Hatch Act prohibits anyone who handles federal money from running for local office. He said the state ruled that because Sudler supervises those who do handle federal money, that excluded him from running for local office.
“I honestly believe that it’s given me more momentum and drive. It’s gotten me more notoriety,” he said.
Sudler also addressed the following issues:
_Transparency: Sudler said, if elected, he would improve transparency into the county’s workings by posting freeholder meetings to the website along with meeting agendas.
_Atlantic City casino security: Sudler said he felt the county should play some kind of role in helping with security, but the county’s Sheriff’s Office needs to be better staffed first.
“Once our own house is in order, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to helping out Atlantic City, if they asked,” he said.
_Debates: Sudler declined any of Levinson’s offers for a debate, saying he did not feel it would be in his best interest because his opponent picked the venues.
“He’s been in office a long time. He has friends, i.e. the Harry Hurleys and Pinky (Kravitz). I don’t believe the debates would have been fair or in my best interest,” Sudler said.
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