MAYS LANDING — There’s a new sheriff in town.
On Wednesday, Eric Scheffler was sworn in as the new Atlantic County sheriff during a ceremony at the Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse. Scheffler, of Northfield, defeated Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser in November’s general election and pledged to bring a nonpartisan agenda to the Sheriff’s Office.
“There is such division out there, it seems like we are incapable of working together to solve the issues in our community,” he said. “But I pledge ... I will be people first; before party and before politics.”
Scheffler, a Democrat, was part of a Democratic wave that swept through Atlantic County and included Democrats winning both state Assembly seats in the 2nd Legislative District, two seats on the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the mayor’s office in Atlantic City, among others.
Those Democrats will take office in January. Scheffler took office Wednesday because Atlantic County had an acting sheriff following the resignation of Frank Balles earlier this year. A special waiver was signed by Judge Julio Mendez allowing Scheffler to take office. That waiver must now be signed by Gov. Chris Christie.
ATLANTIC CITY — New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy laid out an aggressive agenda for his first year in office that included raising taxes on millionaires, fully funding public education, fixing NJ Transit lines and restoring funds for women’s health care.
But considering the election results have already been finalized by Atlantic County, Christie signing the waiver is a formality. Scheffler’s brother, Steve Scheffler, said they were considering physically driving the waiver up to Christie’s office following the ceremony.
Scheffler said some of his top goals are reforming the Sheriff’s Office so it runs more efficiently and pushing a social platform that deals with mental health and addiction and how that affects all corners of the county.
He added the opioid issue that has plagued South Jersey will also be a major focus and he is interested in starting a program that allows people with addiction and mental health issues to go into treatment and recovery before being arrested.
“It means a lot in many ways,” he said. “What we’re doing is taking away the stigma, and we’re also creating roads and avenues for recovery.”
Scheffler’s wife, Maria, said the year-long campaign was tough on her family, especially since she battled breast cancer through part of it. But now, she said, she couldn’t be any more proud of her husband.
“He worked so hard and went around and met so many people in the county,” she said. “He is exactly who he says he is. Everything he told people he wants to do is exactly what he’ll do … and much, much more.”