Retired PBA President David Davidson Jr., Freeholder Charles Garrett and former city employee Guy Weekes may challenge Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford in the Democratic primary as he seeks a third term.
If past primaries are any indication, the winner of the Democrats’ June 4 contest also will take the general race Nov. 5.
Davidson, Garrett and Weekes have each picked up an election petition from the Atlantic City Clerk’s Office, according to lists provided in response to Open Public Records Act requests by The Press of Atlantic City.
Only Davidson, however, committed to the race when asked.
“The fact that I picked up a petition — it’s obvious I’m thinking about running for mayor,” Garrett said Thursday. “There are ... a couple pieces to this puzzle that haven’t fit in yet, so I’m not prepared to say I’m without a doubt going to run for mayor. It’s a huge decision.”
Garrett declined to comment on whether he is putting together a slate or otherwise elaborate on his plans.
Weekes, the brother of the retired Municipal Judge Bruce Weekes, could not be reached for comment.
Davidson, 51, was born and raised in Atlantic City. He retired from the Atlantic City Police Department in July after working as a patrol officer for more than three decades.
“The passion I gave the members of the PBA for six years is the same passion I’ll give the residents, and I’ll fight for them the same way, too,” Davidson said.
They need an alternative to the city’s “failed leadership,” he said.
This election is the first for mayor and at-large council seats since the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority took over planning and development responsibilities within the Atlantic City Tourism District, and the first since the state Department of Community Affairs started overseeing financial operations in City Hall.
When asked whether the state’s involvement has compromised the the mayor’s ability to affect change and help residents, Davidson said his cooperative and communicative nature would let him work well with those agencies to accomplish his goals.
Davidson said he will detail specific solutions for some of the city’s most pressing problems next week when he expects to announce his full platform, but he spoke Wednesday about the need for change in the resort beyond boosting tourism.
“I live a block from Sovereign Avenue School, and the other day, my 11-year-old son was jumped, beat up and had his cellphone stolen. That’s unacceptable,” Davidson said.
Also intolerable, he said, is a $3.3 million in police technology grant funding that has sat unused, aside from $17,000 spent on the TIPS411 service that allows tipsters to anonymously text information to police.
Davidson is thus far running without a supporting slate of City Council candidates.
Running solo for one of the three at-large City Council seats is community organizer Steve Young. He has filed a petition to run, but he did not return calls seeking comment.
Fareed Abdullah, also running on his own, confirmed Wednesday he would challenge the incumbent at-large councilmen.
“I don’t know what went on with the mayor and the governor, but we need to find a way to work with the state,” Abdullah said. “And we have to try some new things. The same stuff isn’t working.”
Abdullah, a business consultant focused on start-ups and the entertainment industry, said he thinks the city needs someone who can rise above politics to focus on addressing the city’s problematic crime, unemployment and housing situations.
Abdullah was on Langford’s ticket when the 2009 race began, but was replaced with Mo Delgado who went on to win election.
Delgado said “nothing in depth” has been discussed among the incumbent candidates but that he intends to run again with Langford as well as Councilmen Frank Gilliam and George Tibbitt.
For a time, Delgado said, he was unsure whether he’d be back.
“My strategy is to do what’s best for the city,” he said. “If that involves putting the team together again, then I’ll do it.”
His main frustration during his first term, he said, was the lack of communication among officials.
“I think that’s the way the system has been set up, the way it’s always been done, and you’re adding another layer with the CRDA involvement,” he said of the state agency’s assumption two years ago of municipal planning and development functions in the Tourism District. “You have to be aggressive to find the information. Some might fall in your lap but it’s up to you to find out whether it’s valid. It just takes work to look (that), it wasn’t granted to me the way I (expected).”
Langford, who confirmed his intent to seek office again during his State of the City address Jan. 16, hadn’t taken out a petition as of Thursday, but Delgado and the rest of the slate has.
Each candidate must get 642 supportive signatures, which the city and Atlantic County Clerk’s office check and verify, before being eligible to appear on the ballot.
No Republicans have taken out petitions so far, and the local Republic Party has not yet publicly announced any candidates.
Jesse Kurtz, who went up against Langford in 2009, said recently he will not try again. He said the local organization’s candidates would not include the challengers from the 2011 race, the Republican party’s best showing in memory in the city.
Kurtz declined further comment on Republican plans for the 2013 election.
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