LINWOOD — Voters will find only one seat challenged for City Council on the Nov. 7 ballot. Incumbent Ward 1 Republican Eric Ford is being opposed by Democrat Michael Sommers. Both are seeking a three-year term.

In Ward 2, Ralph Paolone is running unopposed, as is Councilman-at-large Darren Matik.  

Ralph Paolone, incumbent, Ward 2

Republican

Paolone, 54, has lived in Linwood for 25 years. He and wife Deborah have three children. He is currently the president of City Council. Paolone earned his undergraduate degree from Ursinus College and his law degree from Delaware Law School. He is a lawyer with his own firm since 1996.

Paolone is seeking his fourth three-year term and said, “I decided to run for office because we love living in Linwood. It is a great place to raise a family. I wanted to give back to our community and make sure Linwood remained a special place to raise your family.”

Acknowledging some challenges over the past 12 years, a recession and the effect of Atlantic City's fortunes on every town in Atlantic County, Paolone said, "I think we are now starting to see the light at the end of the difficult economy's tunnel.” He pointed to The Exchange opening and development by Scarborough at the long idle Blume property on New Road as positive signs for the city.

Looking at the next 12 months, Paolone said, "Our citizens will see some changes at All Wars Memorial Park. The buildings, bathrooms and playground will be upgraded, and a passive park at Poplar Avenue will be completed and ready for use this spring.”

Eric Ford, incumbent, Ward 1

Republican

Ford, 44, is running for his first full term. He was appointed to council two years ago when Tim Tighe resigned. Ford and his family have lived in Linwood for 14 years. The graduate of Lafayette College is a partner in Timber Ridge Management LLC.

Ford said he decided to run for council because he feels there is a lot of positive energy on the governing body and he is excited about what the next few years will bring to Linwood.

“We are at a crucial point in Linwood with the new school board as well as the changes emerging from the constraints of Atlantic City’s economy and the challenges we as a county are absorbing from that,” said Ford. His vision for the town is to improve the quality of life while keeping the tax base stabilized.

Ford said that combination of quality of life and stabilized taxes is a challenge. He said enticing new ratables to Linwood is important. To that end, Ford said working with the owners of the city’s new revitalization area along New Road is key to promoting commercial growth in the city.

Darren Matik, incumbent, council at-large

Republican

Matik, 48, has lived in Linwood for nine years and has been on council for six years. Matik works with Bakersville Investment Group, a firm he established. He is also the emergency manager for the city.

The councilman said he is running for another term because there are a number of projects in the works and he wants to be able to see those projects through.

Matik said he feels the most important issue for council is being able to create a balance between services and taxes.

“We need to be able to provide municipal services to our residents, but we need to do that in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” he said. The councilman stressed the need for planning and a five-year look ahead so the city can anticipate what could impact the budget.

Matik and his wife, Brett, have two sons.

Michael Sommers, Ward 1

Democrat

Sommers, 43, is making his first run for office. He has lived in Linwood for nine years. The graduate of Stockton University has worked for Atlantic County for the past 15 years and has been the deputy county clerk since 2015. Prior to that he did municipal audits at Ford, Scott, Seidenberg and Kennedy.

Sommers said he decided to run for office because his daughters are getting older and he has gained some experience within government and a better understanding of where and how to make more efficient choices.

“It is time for the residents of Linwood to, at the very least, have a choice between two individuals and make an actual choice. I also feel that I have enough experience and understanding of government that would be a benefit to the city,” said Sommers. He added he can work alongside anyone who is willing to work and get things accomplished.

Watching the bottom line is high on Sommers' list of what is most important for a member of City Council.

“In times where it seems that everything around us is becoming costlier, it is extremely important that, starting with our local government, that we make sure spending is always being evaluated and not continuing down the same old paths," he said. "That ideas for making efficient cuts are really evaluated and making sure each office within the city has what it needs to be as efficient as possible."

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