By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — While Andrew Parker III missed out on one year of his term as an Atlantic County Board Commissioner, the history-maker has made the most of his time.
Now running for a second term on the board, Parker, who is currently serving as vice chair of the board, said the county has a lot to offer and its collaborative working environment gives it the ability to get things done.
“I have found places where I can make the most significant impact on the quality of life of the Atlantic County residents and establish a reputation within the subcommittees as someone looking to identify projects and see them through to fruition,” Parker told Front Runner New Jersey about his first term.
“I am excited to continue finishing the projects started. I used my previous experience in government on the Township Committee in Egg Harbor Township and served over a decade on the Zoning Board of Adjustment in Egg Harbor Township.
“In addition to the relationships, I built along the way with our State Senator Vince Polistina and our two Assembly persons, Don Guardian, and Claire Swift, to hit the ground running, servicing the residents of Atlantic County. We also have outstanding leadership in our Commissioner’s Board, County Executive, Dennis Levinson, and county administration.”
The Republican had won election to become the first African American to serve on the Egg Harbor Township Committee before running for county commissioner. Because of a balloting snafu in the commissioners’ race that ultimately ended up in court, Parker won a do-over in the District 3 race a full year later.
That meant Parker was in his seat for one less year than he would normally have been because of the legal wranglings that resulted from the county clerk balloting snafu that left some District 3 voters being left out of the voting and others who should have voted casting ballots in the race.
A longtime local educator, Parker said it was his students, along with his family, that became his inspiration in running for office.
“My students were highly excited and constantly had many, many questions for me,” Parker said. “When something is wrong in the community, they remind me that I am in charge and should do something about it. In their minds, being county commissioner means I am in charge of everything.
“It has been fun having ongoing educational conversations about the different roles of each position within local government. My students still need help accepting that I am not the boss of all the local mayors.”
Parker is serving as chair of the Education and Schools Committee; and is a member of the Homeless Committee, Human Services Committee, Parks Committee, Public Health and Environment Committee and Shared Services Committee.
He also serves on the Cultural and Heritage Advisory Board, Library Advisory Commission and Parks and Environment Advisory Board.
Asked what were his biggest surprises while serving on the board, Parker shared what he sees are the differences and similarities between the two parties.
“One of the biggest surprises in my first term has been how often the commissioners’ board, made of seven Republicans and two Democrats, voted unanimously on resolutions,” he said. “Another of my biggest surprises is watching the Democratic Party argue for a major industry and wind turbines, while the Republicans argue in defense of sea mammals, sea life, and our local fishing industry.”
Going into his re-election campaign, Parker said he is clear on several issues that he will be running on, including his opposition to the casino PILOT program, pushing for lowering taxes, and continuing to keep green spaces throughout the county.
“Atlantic County had a tremendous victory for the taxpayers when it came to the ruling of the 2021 PILOT program,” Parker said. “This requires that Atlantic County continue to receive its 13.5% tax allocation based on annual gross gaming revenue that includes internet gaming and mobile sports betting income.
“Atlantic County is working hard to lower taxes for our citizens at a time when many municipalities are raising taxes. In this year’s budget, the county lowered taxes by 2.2-cents, which means the owner of a house assessed at $300,000 would pay about $1,314 for essential county services, down about $66 from last year.”
Parker said Atlantic County was recently named the “Greenest County in NJ” with has preserved 8,800 acres of farmland and open space. He said one of the main initiatives his committees continue to work on is the Bike Path West project. He said in work with Camden County, there is an effort to connect the two bike paths of both counties and make it possible to ride from the Shore to Philadelphia.
“There is an area by the Hamilton Township library, by the old railroad trestle, where we worked with Hamilton Township Committee because it is a great area to preserve a historical site,” Parker said. “With the county’s assistance, Hamilton Township was recently approved for a $1.5 million grant to preserve or repair the Old Railroad Trestle.”
Parker said as a public school teacher, education will be a main priority for him. His chairmanship of the education and schools committee, that group helps schools within the county, including Stockton University, Atlantic Cape Community College, Atlantic County Institute of Technology and Atlantic County Special Services.
“Additionally, we make significant investments into the Ideal Institute of Technology as a primary focus of the county. The Ideal Institute of Technology is a trade school that trains students in IT with its entrepreneurship programs. The Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) has been identified as the highest-ranked school in Atlantic County.
“It is the 66th best among high schools throughout the state based on the annual school performance reports according to the New Jersey Department of Education. Our county earned 20 consecutive perfect audits and elite credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.”
The Rest of the Story
Parker offered additional comments to FRNJ in his interview.
FRNJ: Anything else you would like to add?
Andrew Parker: Library System — As the commissioner liaison of the Library Systems Committee, all three top slots for Best of the Press went to Atlantic County Libraries. We have made significant investments by replacing roofs, installing new HVAC systems, adding power generators, and investing in hotspots and software programs to help with certifications and job training. We invested in programs like Northstar Online Learning and Mometrix eLibrary Test Preparation. The Northstar Online Learning is a leveled-self-paced course program that helps individuals further their knowledge of essential computer skills, software skills, and Using Technology in Daily Life. The Mometrix eLibrary Test Preparation is an online database that offers quality test preparation materials to help users maximize their study time by focusing on the most essential components of test mastery. (2023, Mometrix eLibrary Test Preparation | Atlantic County Library System (atlanticlibrary.org)
Atlantic County Utilities Authorities — As the commissioner liaison, I work together with the ACUA board, past president Rick Dovey, current president Matthew DeMafo and county administration to continuously find and implement ideas that will responsibly enhance the quality of life in the community through the protection of waters and lands from pollution to waste management services. The temporary landfill lifespan is a topic of concern for everyone; five years and five months around the end of 2028, if waste remains the same. I am working with ACUA leadership to ensure we have a plan for our waste moving forward that works in the best interest of all Atlantic County taxpayers.
Atlantic Cape Community College — Atlantic County tax dollars helped fund the ACCC Innovation Center. This center is a state-of-the-art, technology-laden facility geared towards providing instruction and services in Esports, Cybersecurity, Computer Forensics, Game Design, and Computer Science. Also, I and the other members of the Education and Schools Committee, Commissioner Chairman John Risley and Commissioner Frank Balles began holding ongoing meetings with ACCC’s leadership cabinet to discuss and address topics such as renewing the annual budget, enrollment, and marketing, Board of Trustees, as well as all opportunities, successes, ideas, and concerns brought to our attention.
Atlantic County Institute of Technology — We are also very proud of ACIT’s groundbreaking ceremony for its $53.5 million CTE building. The new Career and Technical (CTE) building at ACIT will bolster its students’ aviation, exercise science, and welding instruction.
I am proud to have been involved on every level in helping to approve the first Muslim Cemetery in Atlantic County.
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