ABSECON – Vowing not to be a “bystander-in-chief,” Mayor John Armstrong pledged in his inaugural State of the City address to serve as an active go-between for City Council and the public he represents.
Armstrong spoke at the city government’s annual reorganization meeting held before a standing-room-only crowd Thursday, Jan. 3 in City Council chambers in the Municipal Complex.
Armstrong joined first-term Councilwoman Sandy Shenk Cain and Councilman Frank Phillips in taking the oath of office.
Armstrong, a Democrat, replaces longtime Mayor Peter Elco, a democrat, who retired after 32 years of public service, the last 24 as mayor.
Armstrong was sworn in by his wife, Valerie Armstrong, a retired Superior Court judge.
“I have to say that this is a unique honor and privilege to swear in my husband,” the former judge said to a roar or laughter from the audience.
“Now, you just have to listen and do what I say,” she continued, to even more laughter.
After the laughter subsided, John Armstrong acknowledged the “unwavering support” his wife provided during his campaign.
Cain, 53, who was also sworn in by Valerie Armstrong, will represent the city’s 2nd Ward.
“I thank you for giving me your trust,” Cain said later in the meeting.
She said nobody worked harder than her Team Absecon running mates John Armstrong and Bart Richter, who failed to win election.
“Team Absecon grew from a small group to a whole city,” Cain said. “We are full of great ideas.”
Republican Frank Phillips, also 53, was sworn in by Judge Mike Blee to represent the 1st Ward.
“I thank all of Absecon,” he said.
Phillips acknowledged his “new family” on City Council and told members, “I look forward to working with all of you.”
Council selected Jim Vizthum as council president by a 4-2 vote over Kim Horton, who supported Cain. Phillips and Councilmen Don Camp and Fred Green backed Vizthum.
“We have to get along up here, and I will strive to do so,” Vizthum said after the split vote.
“Coming up at us real quick is the budget,” he said, noting that council will have to work very hard to avoid layoffs during continued tough economic times.
“We have a 2 percent cap to deal with,” he continued.
City Administrator Terry Dolan said City Council will receive his budget recommendations in time for its Jan. 17 meeting.
Council also approved the following appointments at the meeting: Ford, Scott and Associates LLC., city auditor; Stephen Barse, labor attorney; James P. Swift, public defender; Kristopher Facenda, prosecutor; Stuart Wiser of Remington, Vernick & Walberg, city planner; Ronald Ianole Esq., bond counsel; Terry Dolan, authorized agent for the sale of city-owned land; Michael F. Thomas, Glenn Insurance, risk management consultant; Terry Dolan, fund commissioner for the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund; Kimberly Horton, City Council representative to the Planning Board; Carrie A. Crone, mercantile license clerk; and Agnes Bambrick, lien clerk.
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