EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Long-time Committeeman Frank Finnerty announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election.
Finnerty’s announcement comes one day after Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough announced he will not seek re-election to the Township Committee, leaving the two Republican-held seats up for grabs.
“I just want to spend quality time with my children and grandchildren,” Finnerty, 75, said during a phone interview, adding he has four children and six grandchildren.
Finnerty is in his 10th year on the Township Committee. He previously served as an Atlantic County freeholder for six years.
With two seats coming open and the April 2 filing deadline approaching, Republicans who want to run are sharing their intentions with McCullough.
“I think it’s healthy,” McCullough said. “It gives two other people an opportunity to serve their town.”
McCullough said potential canidates include former Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles, now a captain in the Pleasantville Police Department; Justin Riggs, a former school board member; and Andrew Parker, a teacher at Atlantic City’s Pennsylvania Avenue School.
“It’s more than thinking about it,” Balles said. “I’m 100 percent entering my name into consideration.”
Balles said he would bring a lot of experience, from both municipal and county government, to the Township Committee and everyone he has spoken to has been supportive of him.
“I’ve very confident that I’ll be at least one of (the candidates),” Balles said. “But if I’m not, I’ll live by the wishes of the club.”
Riggs said he would be honored to be selected as one of the candidates.
“Mayor McCullough and Mr. Finnerty will be truly missed when they retire from the governing body at the end of December,” he said. “I owe my start and interest in politics to Mayor McCullough. Through the years, he introduced me to township politics by encouraging me to be involved with the community.”
Parker, who called McCullough "a longtime mentor," said that the township will need strong leadership after the loss of Finnerty and McCullough.
"I am not running because I want to advance my political career," he said. I am running to build bridges that will unify this great community."
Keith Davis, chairman of the Republican Party of Atlantic County, said he’s sorry to see both Finnerty and McCullough go but that the township’s Republican Club will work to keep the party strong in the township.
All five seats in the township are currently filled by Republicans.
“I would prefer to see them stay, but it’s their decision and we respect it,” Davis said. “We thank them for their service, not only to Egg Harbor Township, but to the county as well.”
He added that township’s Republican Club, which he called one of our strongest Republican organizations in the county, “will rise to the occasion and we look forward to continuing to have strong Republican representation in the township.”
While he won’t run for elected office anymore, Finnerty said he will continue to be politically involved through the township’s Republican Club.
“I love Egg Harbor Township,” he said. “I love living here. I’m pleased that I had a little part to play in the formation of a phenomenal town.”