Here is the second in a series of interviews with the three Democrat and one Republican candidate preparing for the June 3 primary election. All candidates were sent the same eighteen questions. Following is Mr. Evans’s response.
Jesse O’Leary Kurtz: What makes you different from the other mayoral candidates?
Scott Evans: “My background as a firefighter is the most obvious difference.
“I’ve served this city and our citizens for more than two decades, and that service to one’s community really gives a person a unique perspective. My career is built on public service and public safety. My duty is to our community. My goal is to make Atlantic City safer.
“I have worked in every neighborhood throughout this city for 21 years. I hear the concerns people have about public safety, about property taxes, about jobs, about inept and corrupt public officials. I’ve already begun making changes. I’ve already begun holding people accountable, and this is just the start.
“There truly is a lot to do, and my administration is committed to improving our community so Atlantic City residents are safer and have a better quality of life.
“I’ve fought fires. I’m not afraid of a little hard work.”
2. How do you describe Atlantic City to people not familiar with the City?
SE: “As a good place to do business. As a city of neighborhoods and diversity. As a great place to be from. I’m proud to call this home.”
3. What does the Mayor of Atlantic City do?
4. What does the term “Moving the City Forward” mean?
SE: “I feel like it’s all about improvement and progress. We need to embrace our past, but not return to it. We need to improve the way the city provides services to residents. We can be more efficient. We can make better decisions. We can improve the quality of life in Atlantic City. That’s moving forward.”
5. What will you add to City government?
SE: “A sense of urgency. I’ve been in office six months, and I’ve seen the hurdles we face. We need greater accountability. We have great people who work for the city. We have dedicated public servants, so this isn’t an insurmountable goal.”
6. What will you eliminate from City government?
SE: “We must eliminate waste. We owe it to taxpayers to cut costs. Rather than eliminate something, we need to add something – more efficiency through training and accountability.”
7. Do you support an ordinance banning smoking in casinos?
SE: “Signing the ordinance to ban smoking in our casinos was a historic moment, and it was long overdue. The ordinance is a perfect example of how we can take care of those who live and work here. That’s what public officials and public employees need to do – take care of those who live and work here, make life better for those who live and work here.”
8. Should casino employees be able to run for political office?
SE: “The state has established the law on this issue.”
9. Do you prefer a larger legal department that does less contracting of attorneys, or a smaller legal department with more contracting of attorneys?
SE: “I support the option that costs taxpayers less money. If that means contracting the work to an outside firm, then that is the best option. If it means keeping the work in house, that is the better option. I’m not sure that one approach is always the best answer. I think a hybrid approach, based on the city’s needs, is the best way to keep costs down.”
10. Do you support the City’s employment of lobbyists?
SE: “We hired a lobbyist to protect Atlantic City’s interests in Trenton during discussions over the tax trust fund. We ended up getting just what we wanted and just what the taxpayers deserve.
“Lobbyists can provide a useful function, but I don’t think that means we should employ an army of them.”
11. Are you satisfied with the City’s public transportation regulations?
SE: “Our transportation regulations need to change as the city changes. We need to continue evaluating our growing neighborhoods to ensure public transportation is meeting the needs of those who rely on it.”
12. What are your priorities for upgrading City infrastructure?
SE: “The number one priority is developing a five-year plan. We need to maintain our public buildings. We need to do more to maintain the boardwalk, which has been neglected for years. But most importantly, we need a five-year capital plan to identify the priorities and identify the capital costs so taxpayers know the financial scope of the work that needs to be done.”
13. Will you promote more, less, or the same amount of public housing?
SE: “I call it work-force housing – affordable housing for people who earn entry-level wages. We definitely need more work-force housing so people can live where they work.”
14. Are there too many, not enough, or just the right number of City employees, vehicles, and cell phone plans?
SE: “The city’s public employee work force can be reduced modestly. That likely can be done through attrition – not filling some positions once a person retires. But any changes we make can’t disrupt our job – providing services to the taxpayers.
“I think we need to revisit our guidelines on the use of city-owned vehicles, for no other reason than the cost of gas is out of sight. If we can reduce our gas consumption to save taxpayers money, then we are obligated to do that.
“As with our vehicle policy, it makes sense to review our cell-phone policies. The goal with program[s] also must be to eliminate waste and save money.
“In both cases we need to respect any contracts already in place.”
15. Is there enough enforcement of drug, prostitution, and overcrowding laws?
SE: “The police department does a great job, but they need more resources to combat drug trafficking and prostitution because the problem continues to grow. We need to improve the quality of life in Atlantic City.
“Reducing crime – through the use of foot patrols and technology – reducing drug trafficking and prostitution will make our city a better, safer place.”
16. Does the City have a role in enforcing immigration laws?
SE: “It’s a federal issue, but we need to stay aware of immigration policies and trends because it affects our community.”
17. Do you support the needle exchange program?
SE: “I support the needle exchange program because it’s a public health issue – clean needles can stop the spread of disease. More importantly, any needle exchange program has to be tied to counseling and drug prevention programs to help people overcome addiction.”
18. How will you avoid scandal and build a more positive reputation for Atlantic City?
SE: “I have proposed creation of a Chief Integrity Officer. We already are advertising to fill the new position. I will maintain a higher level of professionalism by treating people the way I want to be treated.
“We also need a fresh start. We can’t expect to improve our reputation by electing those who have broken federal law. We can’t expect to improve our reputation by electing those who owe the city nearly $1 million. Taxpayers deserve better.”