PHILLPSBURG MAYOR STEPHEN ELLIS ANNOUNCES RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN
JP Stettner, Lee Clark, Will Seek Seats on Town Council
PHILLIPSBURG, NJ (March 14, 2019)—Phillipsburg Mayor Stephen Ellis announced today he will be seeking a second term as Mayor of Phillipsburg. He will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Town Council candidates JP Stettner, Phillipsburg’s former police chief and Town Council president, and environmental activist Lee Clark.
Since his election in 2016, Mayor Ellis has pursued an ambitious agenda of economic growth and redevelopment to attract new business and investment in Phillipsburg; the expansion of recreation opportunities and community services to better serve the needs of Phillipsburg residents; systemic improvements to the town’s long-neglected infrastructure; and bolstering community spirit and pride through a calendar of town festivals and events. The Mayor is spearheading a plan to redevelop Phillipsburg’s Delaware River waterfront into a regional recreation and entertainment destination, has worked to create good will with the Greater Lehigh Valley’s business community and leaders; and his 2018 budget provided homeowners with a tax decrease.
In announcing his candidacy, Mayor Ells cited his commitment to making sure Phillipsburg seized the opportunities for economic rebirth currently within its grasp.
“Phillipsburg is looking at an incredibly bright future as a riverfront destination. We are attracting public and private investment and community development that will create prosperity and security for our town and our residents,” Mayor Ellis said.
The Mayor also addressed the personal attacks, false charges and threats his family has been subjected to since his political opponents won a majority on the Town Council in 2017.
“Unfortunately, there are forces in Phillipsburg’s government who would rather spend their time threatening my children and abusing their power to wage political vendettas than creating economic opportunity and doing the work to revitalize our community,” the Mayor said. “Despite the hardship to my family, they support me in standing up to these bullies and fighting for the future of Phillipsburg. I cannot abandon Phillipsburg to people who know no boundaries of decency and who seek to profit from Phillipsburg’s decline. I will always fight for Phillipsburg and I am tremendously excited to have JP Stettner and Lee Clark joining the effort to revitalize our community,” he said.
Town Council candidates JP Stettner and Lee Clark offer Phillipsburg a wide breadth of community service and government experience. Stettner is Phillipsburg’s former police chief, has previously served on Phillipsburg’s town council, board of education and housing authority, and has coached youth sports for more than four decades.
“I felt called to re-enter public life to bring a sense of stability to our government, to bring positive energy and a willingness to work together toward the redevelopment of our great town,” Stettner said. “We must end the negativity that is slowing our progress and prevents our community from moving forward. I am also very committed to the youth of this community and making sure Phillipsburg provides our young people with the support and opportunities they need to live healthy and successful lives,” he said.
Clark is the Watershed Outreach Manager for the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and a commissioner on the Phillipsburg Housing Authority.
“Forward progress of Phillipsburg’s economic development is a necessity for our residents’ prosperity and growth, and only through serious commitments to investors and businesses, can we achieve this for our town,” Clark said. “I’ve decided to run for town council because I believe in a future for our town that sees the encouragement of new and exciting enterprises, while responsibly protecting and utilizing our town’s greatest natural resources, such as our open spaces and our access to the beautiful Delaware River. As a resident I’ve seen the amazing work our mayor has both achieved and set out to accomplish, and it’s leading to a vision that aligns with the hopes of a brighter future for so many in Phillipsburg. It is time to unite our common goals to attract new businesses into Phillipsburg, properly invest in our town’s youth by providing adequate support for our library and after school programs, protecting our town’s historical and environmental lands and trails for all to enjoy, and making sure our first responders and law enforcement have the support they need to help serve our community. As a resident, I want to do my duty and serve our town to help propel us forward,” Clark said.
Democratic Councilman Josh Davis is not seeking re-election.
“Unfortunately, increasingly demanding family obligations have precluded me from running,” Davis said. “JP and Lee will provide leadership and vision to the Town Council. Mayor Ellis and his running mates have my full support,” Davis said.
New Jersey’s primary is June 4, 2019.
ABOUT MAYOR STEPHEN ELLIS
Stephen Ellis was elected Mayor of Phillipsburg in November, 2015, with a mandate to revitalize and reinvigorate Phillipsburg and restore neighborhood pride. Since taking office, he has worked to attract new investment and redevelopment to Phillipsburg, grow the town’ small business community and capitalize on Phillipsburg tourism potential. He has enhanced recreation programs, developed a comprehensive road improvement plan, spearheaded a successful open space referendum and inaugurated Phillipsburg’s Pork Roll Palooza, which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Philipsburg. Due to the Mayor’s advocacy at the state and federal level, Phillipsburg was designated an Opportunity Zone.
During a 35-year career with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection—State Park Service, Mayor Ellis served as the regional superintendent of parks and forestry for northern and central N ew Jersey, managing the administration and operations of some of New Jersey’s most beloved landmarks, open spaces and historic sites—including Liberty State Park, Wawayanda State Park, Voorhees State Park and Swartswood State Park. Ultimately, Mayor Ellis oversaw all state parks, forests and historic sites in the northern third of New Jersey, encompassing 150,000 acres and hosting more than 2.5 million visitors annually. He managed more than 100 staffers and millions of dollars in expenditures and revenues.
The many honors and recognitions Mayor Ellis received during his tenure with the state park service include the Heroism Award from Governor Tom Kean and a formal proclamation by Acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco for his work at Liberty State Park after the tragic September 11th events. He was also recognized by community groups during his career including receiving the Award for Outstanding Public Service from the NY/NJ Baykeeper and the Leadership Award from the Friends of Liberty State Park.
A lifelong resident of Phillipsburg, Mayor Ellis grew up living above his family’s business on Main Street and graduated from Phillipsburg High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in Science and Recreation Services and a Masters Degree, with honors, in Public Administration from Rutgers University. He is married to Rebecca Williams-Ellis, a science teacher at Phillipsburg High School. The Ellis’ have two children, Emily Acadia and Benjamin Stephen.
ABOUT JP STETTNER
James P. Stettner is a 65-year resident of Phillipsburg. He is the former Chief of the Phillipsburg Police Department and served 12 years on the Town Council, including terms as Council President. He has served on the Phillipsburg Housing Authority and as President of the Phillipsburg Board of Education.
Stettner graduated from Phillipsburg Catholic in 1970 and enlisted in the United States Army. He served with the Honor Guard 529th Military Police Company and after an honorable discharge, joined the New Jersey State Police as a communications operator. In 1999, he was appointed Phillipsburg Police Chief. After retiring from the PPD, Stettner became Director of Security for the Phillipsburg School District and served as Director of Security, Safety and Training for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
JP Stettner has been coaching youth sports in Phillipsburg for more than four decades. He has been coaching football, baseball and basketball with the Steele Hill Youth Club since 1972, and served on the club’s board as athletic director, president, vice president and treasurer. He has also served as the Atlantic States Community Action Panel.
JP and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 47 years. They have three children and three grandchildren. Their son, Rob Stettner, is Phillipsburg’s current police chief.
ABOUT LEE CLARK
Lee M. Clark is the Watershed Outreach Manager for the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Phillipsburg Area Historical Society; In 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy appointed Lee to serve a five-year term on the Phillipsburg Housing Authority as the state’s representative commissioner.
Prior to his work with the Delaware River Watershed, Lee worked as the Field Director for New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund’s Green in ’17 campaign, an initiative to raise awareness around prominent environmental issues including clean energy, clean drinking water, open space preservation, and environmental justice. Before joining the NJLCV and CVPA team, Lee worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign as a community organizer, coordinating canvasses, voter registration drives, phone banks, and volunteer recruitment. Lee also has local and state-level campaign experience including working as a field representative with Bonnie Watson Coleman’s 2014 U.S. House of Representatives campaign and Cory Booker’s 2013 U.S. Senate campaign.
Lee received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and master’s degree in Business Communication from Rider University. In 2018, Lee re-founded the Warren County Young Democrats and serves as President.