BERKELEY – After Mayor Carmen Amato announced his intention to run for State Senate, longtime political ally John Bacchione has announced he will run for mayor of Berkeley this year.
Should Amato be selected by the Republicans to run for Senate, it is a fairly sure bet that he’ll win in November since the 9th District is overwhelmingly conservative. That would leave an opening for the mayoral race at home. The Republicans’ decision on this will happen early in the year, giving Amato time to go on the ballot for mayor if he’s not chosen.
Bacchione and Amato are both up for re-election this year. Bacchione has worked in the mortgage industry for about 30 years. He has been a Councilman since 2012, and heads the council’s Finance Committee. Before becoming a councilman, he was on the Berkeley Township Board of Education from 2009 to 2011.
If he gets the nod from the local party to run for mayor, he already has goals in mind. “I want to continue on the path we’re going on for our town center. That’s a big target.”
“Town Center” is a designation by the state in an effort to promote smart growth – put a majority of development in one area instead of letting it sprawl. This is allowing for development of commercial ratables on Route 9.
Another issue is South Seaside Park’s attempt at de-annexation. This is when a section of town wants to leave. SSP is on the barrier island, and their leaders have retained lawyers to try to get out. Township officials don’t want them to go because they would lose a significant tax base. Bacchione is on the Planning Board, and was one of the people who heard the plea for SSP to leave. The issue is now in court.
Other business in town would simply be sailing the ship on course. The town has a strong bond rating, AA-, even after losing a lot of tax income from Superstorm Sandy, he said. A bond rating is basically a credit score for a town.
“It’s been a good run for Carmen and I don’t want to change the recipe,” he said.