ABSECON — The financial crisis in Atlantic City has had a profound effect on neighboring Absecon, and Mayor John Armstrong is hoping to win another term to help steer the city through difficult times.
Armstrong, first elected mayor in 2012, said he is proud of the record he has compiled over the four years he has been mayor of the city of 8,400 residents.
The Democrat said he cut costs in City Hall and hundreds of thousands of dollars from the municipal budget. He also said he is proud of the settlement negotiated in a builder’s remedy lawsuit regarding a failed project on Pitney Road.
The settlement netted the city $400,000 in 2015 and has contributed to a $1.2 million “rainy day fund” the city now has, Armstrong said.
“We’re under stress, but Absecon remains a very tight-knit community that I love,” Armstrong said. “Though times are tough, I think we’re holding together reasonably well.”
Armstrong’s opponent, City Councilman Frank Phillips, said if elected mayor, he will continue to make fiscally responsible decisions while working to revitalize the city’s business district.
“We can streamline the processes that are currently in place and draw new businesses to enjoy our city and all that it has to offer,” he said.
Phillips, a Republican, was re-elected to council last year after defeating Brad Smith with nearly 62 percent of the vote in the 1st Ward.
Armstrong said the city is in the process of obtaining permits to add structures around Absecon Creek.
“The Absecon Creek is a jewel,” he said. “A lot of folks don’t realize that Absecon is a waterfront town.”
One issue both candidates want to address is the number of foreclosures in the city. Absecon had the fourth-highest number of foreclosures last year of all 23 municipalities in Atlantic County, which itself led the nation in foreclosures, Armstrong said.
“The challenges we’ve faced stem from the economic conditions of the area,” Armstrong said, adding that 101 Absecon residents lost their jobs when Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort closed last month.
Phillips said he believes he is the best person to help the city recover because of his 39-year involvement with the Teamsters Union and career in the construction industry.
“I share the values, interest and concerns of each of our working families,” he said. “I will use my knowledge of job creation and retention and contract negotiations to work hard to ensure that we get the most from our tax dollars at the local, county and state levels.”