ATLANTIC CITY — Add another candidate for mayor.
Fareed Abdullah, a substitute teacher and former City Council candidate, said Friday he will run for mayor. Abdullah will face council President Marty Small and Councilman Frank Gilliam in the June Democratic primary. The winner will take on Republican Mayor Don Guardian.
“I want to redo Atlantic City,” he said. “People feel left out. And we have to make sure that Atlantic City residents’ voices are heard, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Abdullah, 38, said his priorities include reducing taxes, creating jobs, making re-entry programs for those convicted of crimes and youth programs tied to science and technology, and improving police-community relations.
“I want to work with private-sector companies throughout the country, and throughout the world really, to bring more businesses to Atlantic City, which in return would reduce our taxes because we will have more ratables.”
He met a reporter at Casino Barber Shop on Atlantic Avenue to highlight his support for small businesses and city culture.
“Building up small businesses and absolutely trying to realize that this is what has made Atlantic City great. The barber shops. The corner stores,” he said. “We don’t want people to forget there’s a whole culture in the barber shop.”
Abdullah said his rivals all believe they can make the city better, but it’s up to voters to decide who can be transparent and get the job done.
Councilman Frank Gilliam said, “Best wishes to whoever wants to take advantage of the Democratic process.”
Council President Marty Small, who was getting a haircut, declined comment.
Abdullah twice ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2009 and 2013. But in his last race, he came within 72 votes.
Abdullah’s 2009 campaign was plagued by a 1997 cocaine possession conviction and a 2009 Superior Court restraining order against him after his fiancee accused him of domestic abuse.
Abdullah said he no longer has a criminal record after an expungement and has worked to improve himself.
“That was something that I did do,” he said. “It was in my younger days, and I’m no longer that person.”
He wants to inspire others.
“There needs to be someone ... the people can relate to and be able to say, ‘When I watch where this person has been and where he is today, if he can make change, why wouldn’t he be able make change for our society,” he said. “I feel that people are ready for what I am about this time around.”