ATLANTIC CITY - Sometimes efforts to help actually hurt. City Council members made that realization Wednesday.
Several council members wanted to endorse Susan Ney Thompson as the official director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, but its history of getting what it wants from the state made some members think the gesture could hurt the candidate.
"Everything we send up to the governor seems to turn out the opposite way. So, if we really want her, I don't know that we should send this up to him," said Councilman Frank Gilliam, prompting laughter among his fellow members and the audience. "It's humorous, but it's true."
The panel drafted a measure to urge Gov. Chris Christie to fill the post with Thompson, who is currently serving as interim executive director. However, after a lengthy discussion over a symbolic resolution, the members decided to change the measure to simply congratulate her for her work in creating the new Tourism District and keeping the public informed.
Christie appointed Thompson as interim director of the state agency as it led the creation of the new Tourism District, a large collection of areas in the city targeted for revitalization through state support. Christie's office has since directed the CRDA board to hire a consultant to conduct a national search to fill the position, but the community, including Mayor Lorenzo Langford, have shown resounding support for Thompson.
Thompson previously served as chief operating officer before the resignation of former Executive Director Thomas Carver in February. Carver resigned shortly after the Republic governor said publicly that he would not be happy with authority being controlled by Carver, a Democratic appointee.
Officials with the administration have interviewed Thompson, and the interim director said Wednesday that her interest in formally acquiring the position remains.
"It's an exciting possibility," she said when discussing her interest, while also noting that she would be happy to work under the right person for the job.
Some opposed council's initial intention to endorse Thompson on Wednesday. Arthur Davis, special assistant provost at Richard Stockton College, appeared before council members saying he is interested in the position and hoped they would consider him before endorsing Thompson.
"I would like the opportunity to be a part of this change," said Davis, who also served as Stockton's director of administrative services.
Councilman Moisse Delgado was one member who was not comfortable with Thompson keeping the post she currently holds, despite his expressed respect for her.
"I'm not sure that she may be the person that's going to be chosen," he said. "Also, she may have already received a mandate on what she has to do, rather than what we want her to do ... This process should include more people inside Atlantic City."
In other business Wednesday:
- City Council decided not to vote on the budget, as previously planned. Council members said they are still waiting to hear from the administration on some of their proposed cuts, which Councilman Dennis Mason said hovered around $2 million.
- Entered into an agreement with the CRDA to install additional lighting on the Boardwalk.
- Agreed with Mayor Lorenzo Langford's recommendation to appoint the city's director of planning and development, Keith Mills, to the CRDA's new community advisory committee. The recommendation is clearly an attempt by the mayor to get a voice at CRDA regarding planning and development, a traditional city function that will be stripped from local government within the Tourism District.
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