Atlantic City's diversity was evident today as it welcomed a new mayor.

Outside City Hall, various flags waved and Chinese dragons danced City Hall filled with people ready to watch Don Guardian be sworn in.

"Today is a new day and a new beginning for Atlantic City," said Chris Filiciello, Guardian's chief of staff.

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Guardian then was sworn in by Congressman Frank LoBiondo, drawing applause when he stressed the words "city of Atlantic City" while taking his oath.

But before taking office, Atlantic City's new mayor began the day by attending a nondenominational service at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, where the Roman Catholic attends Mass.

Guardian, 60, walked down the aisle of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church this morning with his partner, Louis Fatato, holding a pillow with the key to the city.

The service included representatives from various faiths, including a rabbi, Buddhist monk and Methodist pastor.

"Yes, religion needs to be separate from government," Guardian said at the service. "But the tenets of religion are essential to good government."

Guardian, the city's first Republican mayor since James Usry left office in 1990, said that fact that he is working with a Democratic council should not cause any problems, and that he plans to have a diverse and bipartisan administration.

His first test was passed as City Council unanimously approved his nomination for business administrator.

Arch Liston, who most recently served that position in Galloway Township, said he was glad to see the council supported him.

Guardian said his next nomination would be for a city solicitor.

He had interviews with four candidates and said two were "excellent." He would not name his choice yet.

Even before his election, Guardian outlined an ambitious set of goals for his time as mayor, including expanding housing, redeveloping Bader Field and repaving Pacific Avenue.

He also has said he wants to sit down with casinos in an attempt to find a fair way for taxing them, after several successful tax appeals have left the city responsible for millions in reimbursement money.

Guardian served as director of the city's Special Improvement District for about 20 years.

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