PLEASANTVILLE _ Saying he will personally recruit jobs and businesses to come to New Jersey, Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles announced his candidacy Monday, Feb. 11 to represent the 2nd district in the New Jersey Senate.
Balles, a member of the Republican Party, will challenge Democrat incumbent Sen. Jim Whelan, who has represented the 2nd District since 2008. Balles formally announced his plans before 150 people who packed Gary’s Restaurant on New Road.
“It’s because of Gary (Fields) and so many other hard working business owners throughout Atlantic County, who struggle day in and day out to create jobs, pay taxes and make our community the place that it is, that inspires me to run,” Balles said.
His supporters include his wife, Cindi, along with other members of his family, friends, former co-workers and local, state and national politicians.
“As I travel throughout our district, I’m tired of seeing boarded up small businesses,” he said. “It’s frustrating seeing strip malls with no anchor stores and once thriving shopping plazas that are now desolate.”
Balles pledged to “go where I have to go, meet with business leaders from other states and literally recruit jobs here.”
Balles said would work closely with Gov. Chris Christie, “who has made helping Atlantic County a top priority.”
The 2nd legislative district includes Absecon, Atlantic City, Brigantine, Buena Borough, Buena Vista, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Folsom, Hamilton, Linwood, Longport, Margate, Mullica Township, Northfield, Pleasantville, Somers Point and Ventnor.
“Sen. Whelan has been involved with local politics for more than 30 years,” Balles said. “If you can drive around Atlantic City and Atlantic County and say it is better than it was 30 years ago, then you should vote for Sen. Whelan. “If not, then you should vote for me.”
History to Repeat for Balles?
In a way, Balles hopes history repeats itself in 2013.
Balles entered politics in 2008 when he unseated 15-year Democrat incumbent Sheriff James McGettigan. The incumbent was christened as a hands-on favorite in a year when the nation rallied behind the Democrat Party and President Barack Obama.
“I remember people saying, ‘Who is Frank Balles?’” County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “They told me he didn’t have a chance. He can’t win.”
Balles remembers being a member of the Pleasantville Police department at the time when he was given unsettling advice by a local politician.
“He will remain nameless,” Balles said. “He told me I didn’t have a chance.”
But rather than giving up, Balles accepted the challenge and grew from it.
“When people say I can’t do it,” Balles said, “it ignites a passion in me.”
Levinson, who served as Balles’ mentor, remembers the effort his protégé devoted to winning the campaign.
“Nobody else can turn 20-hour days into 30-hour days and seven-day weeks into 10-day weeks like Balles can,” Levinson said. “No one has a better organization and a better commitment to getting the job done.”
Levinson: Balles Appeals to Common Man
Balles’ appeal comes from his ability to see eye-to-eye with the common man, Levinson said.
“He is people orientated and committed to get results,” Levinson said. “When people sit around the table they feel they can relate to him.”
Levinson said Balles sets himself apart from other candidates because, “He really does care. I am proud to call him my friend.” Before Balles was elected sheriff, he served for more than 20 years in the Pleasantville police department. He served as administrative captain when he decided for Sheriff.
When he defeated McGettigan, Balles captured 58,000 votes, the largest total in the history of Atlantic County government.
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