Atlantic County Freeholder Charles Garrett announced his run for Atlantic City mayor Monday morning.
Garrett, who will challenge incumbent Lorenzo Langford in the June 4 Democratic primary, made his announcement at Yardy, a restaurant on Atlantic Avenue, surrounded by 40 supporters.
“It is a city where billion-dollar developments are a stone’s throw from residential neighborhoods,” Garrett said of the resort, adding that those neighborhoods are plagued with drugs, violence and crime.
He added it is a city with rampant unemployment in which senior citizens feel unsafe and homeowners face rising property tax bills.
Retired Policemen's Benevolent Association Local 24 President David Davidson Jr. also has announced he is running in the Democratic primary.
Garrett’s son, Jelani Garrett, said his father has been talking about running for some time.
Charles Garrett said the city needs leadership that has open lines of communication across the county, state and party lines.
“It’s obvious the governor has had some back and forth with the mayor,but we don’t even need to get into all that,” he said.
In an emailed response sent Tuesday, Langford said Garrett's statements were not reflective of what's been going on:
"Obviously, Mr. Garrett has not been paying attention. Lines of communication are already opened and bipartisan working relationships have already been established with elected officials on the county, statewide, and even the federal level with the Obama administration. But what Atlantic City needs is a mayor who will continue to stand up and fight for the legitimate rights of the people and not one who is more willing to just go along to get along."
Garrett, who has served as 1st District freeholder since November 2007, said he will not seek re-election when his second term expires this year. He was born and raised in Atlantic City, and was previously an independent taxi cab operator, according to his statement.
“Normally it would be a quantum leap backward to be going from a freeholder to a mayor, but Atlantic City is a major city, and Atlantic City has to set the pace, maybe even for the state. We could be a model city,” Garrett said. “I’ve got to get elected first.”
Garrett told his supporters that, looking out at the audience Monday, he could see he has accomplished making friends from all walks of life.
And if he does get elected, “you are just going to have to put my feet to the fire on some of the promises I make.”
“Atlantic City can choose the path of reinvention and emerge a world-class destination resort, or it can recede in its position to its competitors,” Garrett said.
The mayor confirmed his intent to seek office again during his State of the City address Jan. 16. No Republicans have announced plans to run.
Candidates seeking to run in the primary have until April 1 to file nomination petitions.
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