ATLANTIC CITY — A group of New Jersey lawmakers plans to introduce a bill to rename Boardwalk Hall “Senator Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall” in memory of the popular former mayor and legislator who died of a heart attack last month.
The legislation is sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo and Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli.
“Senator Whelan spent decades in public service fighting for the residents of the region and the city he loved. The transformation of Atlantic City we are seeing now is a result of his tireless work and will be part of his legacy,” said Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland. “Boardwalk Hall is one of Atlantic City’s most historic and revered places, and it is only fitting that Atlantic City’s biggest champion is honored by having his name forever associated with it.”
The former lifeguard and Atlantic City School District teacher served as the resort’s mayor from 1990 to 2001. He was elected to the state Assembly in 2005, then won a state Senate seat in 2007, winning re-election twice.
“Through his work as mayor, assemblyman and senator, Jim Whelan contributed immensely to the renaissance of Atlantic City, and he will forever be a part of its history,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic. “Renaming this historic building is the perfect way to honor Senator Whelan for all of his contributions to the city, the district and its residents.”
During his tenure as mayor, Whelan attracted more than $4.5 billion in new business starts and expansion that created thousands of jobs, and the city saw the resurgence and redevelopment of the city’s neighborhoods with new housing and new schools.
“I knew Jim Whelan from his first days in the Legislature and sat next to him in the Senate chambers for the past eight years, and I can say with complete certainty that he was the most genuine person I have known,” said Lesniak, D-Union. “He did not try to command the spotlight, but he always commanded trust and respect. When Jim Whelan spoke, everyone listened. I will miss him greatly but his legacy and his memory will live on.”