ATLANTIC CITY – Mayor Don Guardian launched his re-election campaign Thursday outside City Hall, where he hopes to stay for four more years.
Guardian and his allies held a rally and revealed his Republican council running mates. Union leaders, elected officials and a diverse group of residents praised the mayor, sometimes in different languages.
“Four years ago, everything was broken,” Guardian said. “We needed a new beginning beyond casinos. But four years ago, people said I could never fix any of the problems that were plaguing Atlantic City.”
Guardian then listed achievements, including cleaner streets and parks, a reduction in the city budget and increased investment in the resort, among others.
Four candidates are challenging Guardian for mayor.
Perennial candidate Joseph Polillo is seeking the top spot on the local Republican ticket. The municipal Republican committee will meet Saturday to decide who will be the Column A mayoral candidate in the June primary.
“A lot of rhetoric there, huh?” joked Polillo, who watched the rally from the back of the crowd. “I’m not against Guardian. I’m against the city not doing anything (against the state takeover).”
Council President Marty Small, Councilman Frank Gilliam and Fareed Abdullah are facing off on the Democratic side.
Guardian’s running mates will be Ron Bailey, Paul Tonacci and Stacey Kammerman.
Bailey, a lifelong resident and EMT, said he would bring new programs for the city’s youth and vowed to keep his phone on 24 hours a day for constituents.
Kammerman, the first woman to declare her council candidacy and the owner of Kammerman’s Marina, said she is hardworking and honest and would work to bring more investment to the city.
Tonacci, an immigrant from Chile and former managing partner of Atlantic City Bottle Co. and The Iron Room Restaurant, promised to bring an unwavering sense of responsibility, drive and commitment to the job.
In 2014, Guardian became the city’s first Republican mayor since 1990. Almost immediately since taking office, Guardian has leapt from crisis to crisis, dealing with a rash of casino closings and a controversial state takeover of the city’s finances.
On Thursday, Guardian said the job has been challenging but rewarding.
“People always ask me why I would run for mayor of Atlantic City again,” Guardian began his speech to laughs. “And my answer is simple. I love my city.”