Wildwood has had more than its fair share of political acrimony.
Anonymous facebook pages have flooded cyberspace with all manner of conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims, while a fractious group of anti-mayor activists have filed tens of thousands of dollars in fruitless ethics complaints.
But a series of major political defeats seems to have dampened the political enthusiasm of anti-mayor campaigners. When filing for the April 2020 municipal election closed January 21, five anti-mayor incumbents opted not to seek re-election to their council seats.
As filing closed on January 21st, John Gragnani (Ward 1), Kevin Dillard (Ward 3), Cheryl Jordan (Ward 6), Tim Woerther (Ward 7) and Niles Stephens (Ward 8), all left their seats to be filled without contest by first-time Wildwood politicos who have not been christened by the anti-mayor cabal.
In a last-man-standing move, Councilman Niles Stephens (Ward 8), has thrown his hat in the ring in a contest with incumbent Mayor, Jim Bowlin.
Stephens, an ardent upholder of the anti-mayor mantle, campaigned for former Ward 3 council member Tammy Shea after her censure by the Wildwood City Council. That election in 2019 saw her defeated by Dr. Kenneth Remy by a nearly 60 point margin.
(Image: Screen Shot of Niles for Wildwood Facebook Page April 2019)
In this election cycle, Stephen's stands alone with the fractious anti-mayor faction.
It is clear that Wildwood residents have been demanding more civility from their leaders in the last election cycle. With not much more than eight weeks to the election, it will be interesting to see if Stephens takes the high road or reverts to the path that has led to the downfall of so many of his colleagues.
For a list of candidates filed for the April 2020 municipal election go to candidates filed page of the City of Wildwood website.
Paid for by Steve Taylor