Mayor won’t seek re-election

Mayor James Kennedy, who’s pushed downtown redevelopment efforts since first winning election in 1990, told members of the Democratic Committee Monday night that he won’t seek re-election to a sixth term.

The announcement surprised most everyone, including his running mates, according to one person in attendance.

The five-term Democrat was elected to his first four-year term in 1990. Four years ago, he was re-elected with Council At-large candidates James Baker, Nancy Saliga and Sal Mione. Democratic Chairman Rick Proctor, who also serves as the city’s health officer and as an elected county freeholder (whose term expires 2011), will run for the Democratic line for mayor and likely will be challenged by Republican Patrick Cassio in November. The filing deadline is Monday, April 12.

Kennedy’s 20-year tenure as mayor included construction of a new public library, recreation center and renovation of the train station, along with many of the development projects currently under way or completed. He said he’s looking forward to time off but remains committed to the efforts with the cultural arts. “It should be rewarding and fun,” he said.

Kennedy, who earns about $70,000 as mayor, according to Asbury Park Press‘ DataUniverse, confirmed that City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier would remain in those positions should Proctor succeed him as mayor.