Mayor Lorenzo Langford walked into his headquarters Tuesday night with his victory already sealed.
The room, already celebrating a large victory with just more than a third of the Atlantic City’s election district's reporting, erupted in applause and shouts of “four more years.”
Langford was confident as he led a campaign that took on both state leaders and the county Democrats, who backed challenger Charles Garrett, who is finishing up his sixth year as freeholder.
“I think the residents understand they have a mayor whose primary concern is this city and who understands their desires,” he said when asked about his very public battle with Gov. Chris Christie.
With the final unofficial votes in, Langford received 1,931 votes to Garrett's 1,259. Retired city Police Officer Dave Davidson Jr. — who likened himself to David against the Goliaths in this race — garnered 670 votes.
While the winner will take on Don Guardian in November, Atlantic City has not voted in a Republican since the city returned to partisan voting.
“The people have spoken,” Garrett said at his headquarters after the results were announced.
Now, he said he will get behind the mayor, but also hold him to what Garrett said needs to be done.
“I'm willing to do whatever I can to move the city in a positive direction,” he said.
There were still 380 Democratic mail-in ballots in Atlantic City as well as 88 unaffiliated mail-in ballots, Board of Elections Chair Paula Dunn said.
That would not affect the mayoral primary, but it could threaten one incumbent at-large councilman.
George Tibbitt came in third, behind his incumbent running mates Mo Delgado and Frank Gilliam Jr. But his 1,478 vote total was within reach for challengers Steve Young, with 1,426 votes and Fareed Abdullah, with 1,406.
Aliyah Marshall, 27, who was getting out the vote for Langford on Tuesday afternoon, said residents worry that the state's Tourism District will take over the city and push out its residents.
“We still live here,” she said. “And, nine times out of 10, we aren't going anywhere.”
“It's been very low voter turnout,” Tibbitt said early in the day. “Primaries are always scary and unpredictable things because of the turnout being so unpredictable.”
Langford and Garrett had teams on the streets throughout the campaign, which continued in full force Tuesday.
There were about 120 people out for Langford, with vans in each ward. Garrett had six vans. Jitneys were also helping shuttle voters — regardless of the candidate they backed— to the polls.
"We don't have the manpower that they do," Davidson said. "We just did what we could and we'll see what happens."
Tyiese Jones, 24, just returned home after four years of college and said she has seen how important it is to get involved. But she had to battle a lot of the youth, who said they don't care about the race.
"My main thing is, I'm team Langford," she said. "But at the end of the night, the main thing is to vote."
Outside the New York Avenue School Langford workers were in force, but voters were hard to find.
The remaining results for the at-large candidates were Henry Green with 1,188 and Patricia Tatum, who ran with Davidson, with 470.
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