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Kim Horton becomes Absecon's first woman mayor

ABSECON — Council member Kim Horton was recently appointed the city’s newest mayor, taking the place of the departing John Armstrong and in the process becoming Absecon’s first female mayor.

Armstrong recently announced he was vacating the seat for personal reasons. Horton expressed interest in the position during the city’s reorganization meeting and was chosen to lead the council. Horton will serve as Absecon’s mayor at least until an election is held in the fall.

Horton, who represents Absecon’s 2nd Ward and was twice elected as a council member, isn’t treating the job as an interim position. She’s assumed the responsibilities of mayor and plans on running as the mayoral candidate in both the upcoming election, and future elections should she win.

“In my seven years of experience I have worked with various committees in town and I’m feeling pretty good about it,” Horton said. “I’ve gotten lots of messages of support and I feel good about the challenge. It feels great to represent the town I grew up in.”

Horton said she and her fellow council members were shocked when Armstrong made the announcement that he was leaving. According to Horton, Armstrong cited side business projects were taking up more of his personal time than he anticipated. Armstrong, who Horton said regretted having to step down, decided to vacate his mayoral seat before it became a distraction.

Armstrong was elected mayor in 2012, a surprise win for a man who had never served in public office before. Touting fiscal responsibility and a record of reducing the municipal budget while also tackling issues like the city’s high foreclosure rate, Armstrong was elected to a second term in 2016.

Horton’s election was also a bit of a surprise in a typically Republican leaning town.

“I was not supposed to win,” Horton said about her first election. “But, being the fact that I have been a teacher for 41 years and I have interacted with most of the families here, I’ve kind of become entrenched in Absecon for a long time.”

As for her new job, Horton is confident she’ll be able to serve the city. During her tenure on the council she’s served on numerous committees, including economic development, public works, and community affairs. She has also served as president of the Absecon Education Foundation.

Thus far, Horton has met with city Administrator Jessica Thompson and Police Chief John DeRitis to get up to speed with her responsibilities.

“This is not something that’s foreign to me,” Horton said. “I know that the mayor works closely with law enforcement and the fire department and I’m going to continue that.”

In the short term, Horton and the rest of the council are back to work. A top priority right now is finding someone to fill her now empty 2nd Ward seat. Though no candidates have been announced, Horton said a replacement will be named soon. There’s also the city’s budget to tackle, as well as her predecessor’s history of reigning it in.

But it’s the work Horton is most excited for.

“I’ve enjoyed my time on council and I’m going to enjoy my time as mayor,” Horton said.

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