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Troiano Returns as Mayor, Joining Mikulski, Fitzsimons on Wildwood Commission

Troiano Returns as Mayor, Joining Mikulski, Fitzsimons on Wildwood Commission

By Christopher South

Ernie Troiano Jr. addressed the crowd at the 2024 City of Wildwood reorganization meeting, after being sworn in as mayor by retired Superior Court Judge Lou Hornstine, right.
Shay Roddy
Ernie Troiano Jr. addressed the crowd at the 2024 City of Wildwood reorganization meeting, after being sworn in as mayor by retired Superior Court Judge Lou Hornstine, right.

WILDWOOD – Ernie Troiano Jr., who was returned to the Board of Commissioners in the November election, took the oath of office as commissioner and was then chosen as mayor at the reorganization meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Troiano was elected with incumbents Steve Mikulski and Krista Fitzsimons.

Troiano, who was defeated in the 2020 election and who has faced legal charges brought by the state Attorney General’s Office, received 434 votes, second to Fitzsimons, who finished with 492 votes. Mikulski received 392.

Fitzsimons, who was the top vote-getter in the last two elections, would later vote against Troiano’s being named mayor, and against Mikulski’s being named deputy mayor.

Commissioner Krista Fitzsimons takes her oath of office from Wildwood City Clerk Lisa Brown. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

Troiano said he and Mikulski are available to respond to city business “24 hours a day, 365 days,” a reference to Fitzsimons holding a full-time job.

Mikulski said he and Troiano, who ran together, did not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on their campaign “as others did.” The Fitzsimons team, which included Phil Swetsky and R. Todd Kieninger, who were unsuccessful in their bids for office, received significant contributions from the Cape May County Republican Committee.

Retired Superior Court Judge Louis Hornstine, who administered the oath of office to Troiano and Mikulski, first gave credit to their wives for their roles in the campaign. Jackie Mikulski was undergoing treatment for cancer while in the midst of a campaign that had to deal with the charges from the state Attorney General’s Office that her husband and Troiano misused the State Health Benefits Program.

Hornstine referred to Troiano as the Wildwoods’ greatest ambassador, a role Troiano seemed to embrace.

It was a full house for the reorganization meeting, held at the Wildwood Convention Center. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

Troiano said many people do not make a distinction among the Wildwoods, referring to Five Mile Island as “Wildwood.” He said that was fitting because they are essentially one community.

He also spoke about the cohesiveness of Wildwood residents with the city’s leaders, saying, “Everyone in Wildwood is of one blood.”

Troiano stressed the need for everyone in Wildwood to work together for the good of the city. Speaking after the meeting, he told the Herald he sees a need to immediately address certain needs in the city, including the improvement of city streets. He said he will work to promote responsible development or redevelopment.

“We are in the position to be picky about what we do and how to do it,” he said.

Troiano said Wildwood is the last bastion for development among the barrier islands, and the city is in a good position to set terms for development, not just accept whatever is offered by developers. At the same time, he said he would like Wildwood to be an affordable place to live for year-round residents, and spoke about giving second-home owners more of a voice at the table.

“They say they have no voice – I want to hear from those who have no voice,” he said.

Mikulski, who was renamed director of Public Safety at the meeting, had praise for the city’s police officers, firefighters and beach patrol members, whom Troiano referred to as “my people.” Troiano has been a Wildwood volunteer firefighter for more than 50 years.

Steve Mikulski, left, with retired Superior Court Judge Lou Hornstine prior to taking his oath of office. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

Mikulski echoed Troiano’s remarks about giving a voice to the voiceless, but was referring to all citizens, not just second homeowners.

He pushed back against the state charges and criticism of city government, saying, “This is not a circus – we are not animals.” He said he is not serving as a commissioner “for kicks,” but is trying to do what’s best for the city.

Despite the defeat of her running mates and no longer being able to serve as deputy mayor, Fitzsimons said it was a great day for Wildwood. She said she was proud of the progress made during the past four years, particularly in parks and recreation, which was under her oversight.

She vowed to continue with her community coffee klatches and to be available to members of the community. She said she would work to support her fellow commissioners and all city employees.

Fitzsimons did not join her fellow commissioners in voting to drop the Herald as the city’s newspaper of record.

The commissioners additionally voted on various routine appointments and assignments. The city will also have to appoint a new city administrator to replace Steve O’Connor.

From left, Krista Fitzsimons, Steve Mikulski and Ernie Troiano Jr. make up the new Wildwood Board of Commissioners. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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