ATLANTIC CITY — Local Democrats on Monday overwhelmingly endorsed Councilman Frank Gilliam for mayor and his slate of City Council running mates.
By a 27-3-1 vote at the Irish Pub, the Atlantic City Democratic Committee made Gilliam the Column A mayoral candidate on the ballot for the June 6 Democratic primary.
In a separate vote, the committee gave incumbent Councilmen Moisse Delgado (28 votes) and George Tibbitt (27 votes) and candidate Jeffree Fauntleroy II (20 votes) the coveted line on the ballot. All three are seeking at-large seats.
Gilliam is facing Council President Marty Small (3 votes), Fareed Abdullah (1 vote) and Jimmy Whitehead for mayor in the Democratic primary. The winner will face incumbent Republican Mayor Don Guardian and independent Joseph Polillo in the November general election.
Small’s council at-large running mates are Bruce E. Weekes (4 votes), Lamont Fauntleroy (2 votes) and Derek K. Cason.
Abdullah and Whitehead do not have running mates.
In a speech before the vote, Gilliam said he’s helped the community by helping create expungement, job training and scholarship programs. He also talked about addressing the city’s troubled finances and bringing development to the city.
“We’ve given ourselves to this community since day one,” Gilliam said of himself and his slate. “Atlantic City is in a time when we cannot be in a silo. The silos have gotten us smothered. We’re almost drowning, and we’re still trying to go to the well with the same old nonsense.”
Small argued he has a track record of getting out the vote and highlighted his public fight against a state takeover of the city’s finances.
“Marty Small has been a constant presence in this community,” he said. “I’m the only candidate in the race that has upheld the constitution and fought the good fight for city of Atlantic City while others sat on the sideline for political gain.”
Abdullah, a substitute teacher and former council candidate, tried to convince the crowd that change is needed, which means “stop electing people because of popularity.”
“Everyone always screams about changing this and changing that,” he said. “Look at the state of Atlantic City at this present time. Do you see any changes when you see high taxes, you see high crime, high unemployment?”
Whitehead, a U.S. Navy veteran who is kicking off is campaign Friday, said he would try to make the resort a hub for cyber security jobs.
“This election is about the next 20 years. And the vision is not casinos. The vision is in cyber security,” he said. “Let’s bring a multi-billion dollar development project here to create these jobs. And let’s be the first cyber security enterprise zone in America.”
Gilliam, Abdullah and Whitehead said they would support a Democrat against Guardian in the general election regardless of who wins in the primary. Small would not make that commitment.