Democratic primary

Atlantic City’s Democratic candidates for mayor in the June 6 primary are, from left, Jimmy Whitehead, Councilman Frank Gilliam, Fareed Abdullah and Council President Marty Small.

Edward Lea / Staff Photographer

ATLANTIC CITY — Democratic mayoral candidates fired off their best attack lines during a debate Thursday night, drawing laughs, jeers and applause from a packed crowd.

The debate, held at the Martin Luther King School Complex, was organized by the Atlantic City branch of the NAACP.

Asked about building relationships that benefit the city, Fareed Abdullah swiped at Council President Marty Small, who runs an entertainment company that organizes events and parties.

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“Maybe if Mr. Small would stop networking with DJ Wookhead,” Abdullah began, “maybe we would have real transparency in Atlantic City.”

One question later, Small fired back.

“As far as this confused individual, Mr. Fareed Abdullah, talking about the party — he wasn’t saying that when I gave him a free ticket to get in,” Small said.

Councilman Frank Gilliam jabbed at Jimmy Whitehead, a political newcomer in the city who grew up in Washington, D.C., but has lived in Atlantic City for 15 years.

“We don’t need an individual coming from out of nowhere,” Gilliam said. “Where did he come from? Why is he here?”

Small made a similar joke, asking Whitehead: “Who are you?”

Whitehead responded by accusing his opponents of making deals with politically connected developers.

“If they get elected, the next day they’re going to start talking about, ‘Oh, we have to raise your taxes because we’re going to give this developer a tax rebate,’” he said.

All the candidates did, however, agree on one thing. They all gave incumbent Republican Mayor Don Guardian a failing grade for his four years in office.

The winner of the June 6 Democratic primary will face Guardian in the November general election.

Contact: 609-272-7215 Twitter @_Hetrick

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