ATLANTIC CITY - City Solicitor Bruce Ward will soon be able to say he has worked in all three branches of government for his hometown.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford announced Monday that he will nominate Ward to replace Municipal Judge Bruce Weekes, 65, who will retire Wednesday after 24 years on the bench.
Ward, also 65, first served the city in the legislative branch, as a councilman. He then became solicitor, which is administrative. If approved during a Feb. 8 City Council meeting, he will then join the judicial branch of government.
"I'm very appreciative that the mayor selected me," he said. "I intend to do my very best to bring as much of the distinction and respect that the court deserves."
"I am confident that Bruce will continue to serve Atlantic City with distinction in his new role as chief judge," Langford said.
Ward grew up in Stanley Holmes Village and attended public school in the city, graduating from Atlantic City High School in 1966. He went on to Rutgers, earning his bachelor's, master's and law degrees with the university.
"I think the happiest person is my mom," Ward said of Mary Ward, 93. "When I told her, she burst into tears of joy. That's where the real emotional high is, with me and my mom."
Ward's tenure as solicitor recently received a nod from the New Jersey Law Journal, which noted aggressive steps taken to fight lawsuits filed against the city, Langford said in his news release announcing the appointment.
"I will really miss the splendid staff in the Solicitor's Office," Ward said. "They're just great people."
Ward worked as an instructor both at Atlantic Cape Community College and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey before becoming a private attorney, where he focused on health care, real estate and corporate transactions. He also served as municipal prosecutor in Pleasantville and Cherry Hill Township, Camden County.
"I'm happy and ready to accept the challenge," Ward said of the new position.
While council approval is necessary, it is usually a formality. In January 2010, Langford opted not to reappoint Judge Matthew Powals - who, like Weekes - was appointed in 1988 - and instead nominated then-municipal prosecutor Henry Warner. When councilmen asked questions about the decision, Langford said that when he was in their place he never would have questioned a mayoral appointment. Langford ended the discussion with: "I don't get mad, I get even," but later apologized for his remark.
"That came out in a real arrogant and clumsy kind of way," he said. "I apologize to the members of the council and the public."
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