EGG HARBOR CITY – Egg Harbor City Councilman Clifford Mays, Jr. made headlines following the city council reorganization meeting on January 2 when he proclaimed that council was comprised of “white supremacists”. After a month and a half of near silence on the subject, numerous council colleagues chastised him for his comments at the council meeting on Thursday, February 13.
During the public comment section of the recent meeting, resident Reed Cramer, a democratic candidate for council in 2018, asked Mays to apologize for his accusation. “I have nothing else to say on it,” Mays said.
Reed’s rationale for his request dated back to an article that appeared in The Press following the reorganization meeting. In that article, Mays stated that one of the current councilmen hugged a 2018 democratic candidate for council who had allegedly made racist and transphobic social media posts. It was obvious that Mays was referring to Reed.
“Councilman Ricci, a republican, made a presentation at a council meeting last summer in which he presented a check to our Neighborhood Watch program that I represent from funds he collected for conducting a CPR class,” Reed said following the meeting. “Ricci and I hugged after the presentation. Apparently, that led Mays to make his comments.”
After Mays refused to comment, Reed asked if any members of council had comments. Councilwoman Donna Heist is a teacher in the Atlantic County Special Services School and was the first to respond. “I teach and care for children of all ethnicities,” she said. “I was highly offended by his comments and I met with him and asked him to apologize. When he refused, I lost all respect for him.”
Council President Angelo Lello referred to social media comments made by Reed years before he sought a seat on council that Mays referred to. “People make mistakes, things often said out of anger,” he said. “Everyone deserves a chance to change their views. Everyone needs to look inside themselves.”
Newly elected councilmembers Steven Dash, Mattia Brown and Scott Trythall were sworn in at the January 2 meeting and agreed that the comments made by Mays negatively affected that event.
“We were all shocked by your statements,” Dash said. “You owe everyone up here an apology.”
“I was flabbergasted and thought you would eventually apologize,” Trythall said.
Brown joined Mays as the second African-American member to serve on council. “I thought his statement included me as well,” she said. “I don’t agree with him at all and feel his comments were a real low blow.”
Mayor Lisa Jiampetti referred to issues raised in the recent campaign. “It’s very sad that good people who want to run have to put up with this,” she said. “It’s a shame what politics have become in Egg Harbor City.”
The terms of office for Mays, Jiampetti, Heist and Councilman Robert Ross expire this year. Reed made it clear how he feels about Mays. “I will do everything in my power to make sure you will not continue to serve on council,” he said.
Also at the meeting, Michael Troncone of Consulting and Municipal Engineers, outlined plans for the proposed Cedar Creek High School – Egg Harbor City Lake Pedestrian Connection project. According to Troncone, preliminary engineering is being done to construct five-foot wide bike lanes in both directions along two miles of Philadelphia Avenue from Diesterweg Street to the Egg Harbor City Lake and Campground. The project will include widening of the roadway, placement of new signage and striping, stormwater swales and new concrete parapets and guiderail for the Atlantic County Bridge EHC-13 over Landing Creek.
Troncone said the project will be constructed with federal funding and without any tax implications to city residents. Work is expected to start in fall, 2021 or the following spring.