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EGG HARBOR CITY — Five candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking three seats on City Council on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Incumbent Robert Ross won election as a Republican in 2014 but is running this year as a Democrat along with Andrew Dixon and Donna Heist.

Incumbent Clifford Mays Jr. is running on the Republican ticket with Robin Sefton. The candidates were asked to provide a profile and answer the following questions:

• What do you see as the biggest issue(s) facing the city over the next three years?

• How do you propose to balance the ever-present demand for services and steadily increasing costs with the need to stay within the 2 percent cap on tax-levy increases and keep tax increases under control?

• What do you feel should take priority regarding commercial and residential development in the city?

Andrew L. Dixon

I am 54 years old, born in Somers Point hospital. I am a graduate of Absegami High School and currently employed at Edmunds & Associates. I have been a resident for 30 years and a former pastor of Christ’s Wesleyan Church in EHC.

I served in the N.J. Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing. I serve as chairperson of the Egg Harbor City Coalition for a Safe Community. I am married to Connie for 33 years and have three children, Andrew Jr., Dorian and Aaron.

Having been a resident for over 30 years, I have seen that we, like every other municipality in Atlantic County, are challenged with the task of finding creative and effective ways to lower our high tax rate caused by lower property valuations.

I believe part of the solution would require continued redevelopment in the city, both residential and commercial, that would make it more attractive to new businesses and potential residents. We also need to reassure our current and potential residents that Egg Harbor City is a safe and desirable place to live and raise a family.

As I stated earlier, commercial and residential redevelopment is going to be key for maintaining our present availability of services offered without increasing taxes.

Both are equally important, and neither should be neglected at the expense of the other because they go hand in hand and Egg Harbor City is in need of both.

Donna Heist

I am 51 and have lived Egg Harbor City for the past 25 years. I was born in Egg Harbor Township, attended public school and graduated from EHT High School. I married my husband, Gary, in 1986 and have 2 sons and a daughter. I have been employed at Atlantic County Special Services School District for 30 years. I have volunteered as an EHC Crusader drill team and T-ball coach, Mullica Rec. soccer coach and am a member at EHC Moravian Church, where I serve on the Board of Elders, Ways and Means Committee, and as a Youth leader.

The biggest challenge over the next three years will be taxes. EHC is a beautiful city with tree-lined streets and lots of charm. We need to bring in ratables and fill empty homes. Like a lot of communities in our state and across the country, our economy has decreased as the cost of living has increased. With hard work and determination, myself and my fellow council members are going to get out there and try to find businesses who are willing to join our city.

Two percent is a very tight cap, but my goal is to have no increases. I plan on looking at other communities to see how they have built up their Main Streets and run their city departments. I’d like to do a comparison between our city and others to see what we need to change in order to help us thrive. I also would like input from our residents and business owners. Every idea is worth exploring. We are a small community, but I believe we are capable of doing big things!

If we focus on commercial growth, then residential growth will hopefully follow naturally. People want to live in communities that have lots to offer. We now have three top-of-the-line schools and numerous businesses already thriving in town. By adding to the commercial growth in our city, we will definitely be one of the up-and-coming places to live. I love Egg Harbor City, and I want to see other people feel the same way.

Clifford Mays Jr.

I am 84 years old and was born in Egg Harbor City. I attended Stockton State College and the College of Commerce. I am retired from working for the state of New Jersey.

My past experience includes director of Action Now Center, deputy director of community services (under Department of Community Affairs in Trenton), director of special projects at Vineland Developmental Center, on the staff of NJ Casino Control Commission and NJ Transit Authority as parking manager, chairman of Trustee Board of Church of the Living God, member of Board of Trustees of National Church of the Living God, member of the Atlantic County Drug Abuse program, coach of St. Nick’s youth program in baseball and basketball.

I have been married to Doris Mays for 55 years and have five children, Linda Duran, Clifford Mays III, Kevin Mays, Markel Mays and Fay Mays-Brooks.

Egg Harbor City is in financial crisis mainly because over 200 houses sit empty in our city, causing the highest taxes in the county.

Democrats have mismanaged city government.

As a council member, I instituted a welfare work program, the second in New Jersey to do so, and also installed a meal site program for seniors.

In 1971, I was only the only council member who had the foresight to vote to join the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, which would have been good for Egg Harbor City as the town would have been able to build houses. As a result of the opposing votes by other council members, Egg Harbor was not allowed to build for 15 years.

City Council needs to cut spending. Democratic nepotism has also caused an unfair burden to taxpayers.

I have goals to create an inviting environment for business growth in our city center. Egg Harbor is 90 percent undeveloped, and we have to make sure we plan wisely to preserve our natural resources. Open, uninhabited land is a must for the future health of our community.

I am opposed to commercial development at our lake park area.

The state 2 percent cap would help ensure past City Council offenders’ policies of backroom agreements would come to an end.

Robert Ross

Robert Ross, 60, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Education: Aerospace Electronics and Microprocessor School, United States Air Force. He is a substation construction consultant engineer for Atlantic City Electric.

He and his wife, Mary Beth, who is a third-grade school teacher, have lived in Egg Harbor for 33 years. They have two children — Sarah, who is an attorney working as a deputy attorney general for the Attorney General’s Office of N.J., and Andrew, who is a science teacher at the Community School of Egg Harbor City, teaching the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The family are members of St. Nicholas Church.

The largest issue facing our city is the ability to continue to provide our neighbors quality services while stabilizing the tax rate. I see the way to accomplish this is to make our community a place that businesses would want to come to. Our town has suffered from the loss of commercial business. With our central location and major highway access, Egg Harbor would be an ideal location for businesses.

If this can’t be done, the only way to balance the city budget would be to cut or privatize services. We can’t keep asking for more tax money; this only chases out good neighbors and keeps others from looking at our town as a place to raise a family.

Get good commercial interest and development, and residential development will take care of itself.

Robin Sefton

Robin Sefton, 55, is a life-long resident of Egg Harbor City She is married to her husband Howard, and do not have any children. 

The Budget, Cut the spending.

If you cut the spending you can stay within the 2 percent cap.

95 percent of the stores are empty so we have to rely on the NJ department of community affairs to apply guidance and there are 200 empty houses, we can`t develop a plan until these are dealt with.

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