By Donald Wittkowski
There will be no political intrigue or drama in Sea Isle City’s May 14 municipal election.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio and City Council incumbents William Kehner Sr. and Frank Edwardi Jr. are virtually assured of re-election even before the first vote is cast.
They will run unopposed because no other candidates submitted election petitions by Monday’s filing deadline, City Clerk Shannon Romano said.
Desiderio, Kehner and Edwardi also faced no opposition the last time they ran in 2015 for a four-year term.
Edwardi said he believes the voters are satisfied with the city’s elected leadership and its tax structure.
“Probably the reason is, we have done a good job and the city hasn’t had a tax increase in five years,” he said.
Under the 2019 municipal budget, the mayor has proposed cutting the local tax rate by a half-cent and is already promising there will be no tax increase in 2020 because of the city’s strong financial standing.
Even without facing any opposition, Desiderio said he still plans to do some door-to-door campaigning with Kehner and Edwardi to meet with voters and discuss the issues.
“The people in Sea Isle are very informed. Sea Isle is a very open town, and we’re proud of the fact that we helped make it that way,” he said.
The 62-year-old Desiderio, mayor since 1993, is running for the eighth time. Last year he won re-election as a Cape May County freeholder, the other elected office he holds.
Kehner, 70, has a long history in Sea Isle politics. He served one term from 1977 to 1981 under the city’s old commission style of government. He was first elected to City Council in 2007 and is now seeking his fourth term.
“People seem to know that I’m involved,” Kehner said, also noting that he has experience serving on the city’s Planning Board, Zoning Board, the Board of Education and other local entities.
Like Kehner, Edwardi was first elected to Council in 2007 and is seeking his fourth term. A lifelong Sea Isle resident, Edwardi, 51, has often pointed to Council’s team work for getting things done, including the construction of major infrastructure improvements while keeping the local tax rate stable.
Desiderio, Kehner and Edwardi are running under the campaign slogan of “Team Sea Isle.”
The mayor mentioned the city’s flood-control strategy as an example of the way he has collaborated with City Council on key issues to help local residents.
“We have not rested on what we have done in the past and we will keep moving the city forward,” Desiderio said.
On March 4, Sea Isle began operation of a new flood warning system – the largest of its kind in New Jersey – that includes sensors, cameras and flashing road signs to alert motorists of rising stormwater.
Desiderio pointed out that Sea Isle is the only municipality in New Jersey that has earned Class 3 status in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s community rating system for national flood insurance. That rating gives Sea Isle property owners a 35 percent discount on their flood insurance policies.
Kehner, meanwhile, has been pushing for a new ordinance to create “no wake zones” in town to prevent motorists from speeding through flooded areas and creating wakes or waves of water that damage garage doors and other private property. Council is expected to introduce the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.