ATLANTIC CITY — “Oh there’s the statue!” said Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, as members of the Police Department’s surveillance center focused the Boardwalk cameras on Kennedy Plaza.
Franklin, 25, visited the Public Safety Building Thursday morning for a photo opportunity with officers.
While Franklin thanked police Chief Henry White and the other officers for their work during the Miss America pageant week, White asked a Miss America Organization staffer the question many have wondered since September: Where will the pageant be held this year?
“That’s above my pay grade,” said Cori Wallace, Miss America Organization tour manager.
The contract between the MAO and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority expired after last year’s pageant. The CRDA chose not to renew the contract, saying the annual $4.325 million the agency subsidized for the pageant was “too high” a price.
After the 2019 competition, the MAO drafted and sent a request for proposal to the CRDA and other cities to host the pageant for the next two years.
After the police station, Franklin met with Mayor Frank Gilliam at his City Hall office.
Gilliam asked Franklin about how her year has gone so far and how she has taken on the role of Miss America during a time when women’s empowerment is at the forefront of social issues.
“I believe that you can always do more,” said Franklin. “Of course as a woman and as an African-American woman, I want to do more to help this movement.”
Franklin said she hopes to inspire young women to achieve success. Citing her own career, Franklin, a classically trained singer/songwriter, said she felt like an underdog as a female composer in a mostly male-led field.
She told Gilliam she would like to work with schools and universities to promote arts education.
“I think I can really be a voice and an example — not only women but young men as well — in the field of arts and share my story,” said Franklin.
Gilliam said his staff would reach out to the city’s school district officials, as well as the executive superintendent of Atlantic County schools, to help Franklin.
“The purpose of me sitting in this seat is not to just say I’m the mayor, the purpose is for us to open doors and create opportunities,” said Gilliam, who then joked, “I thought you were going to ask for $1 million.”
Gilliam, who as mayor is a member of the CRDA’s board, supports the pageant but also believes the CRDA could make more prudent financial decisions.
“We’re excited to find a way to keep you in the city and have (Miss America) be a household name for Atlantic City,” Gilliam told Franklin. “The Miss America pageant was created here, and it seems that it should remain part of the city’s history and backdrop.
“Again, we support you, and we’re very happy to have you back.”
Franklin will continue her year of service as Miss America with more appearances across the nation and a concert with the South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble in February at Stockton University in Galloway Township.