ATLANTIC CITY — Council President Marty Small made it official Thursday: He’s running for mayor.
“I’m in,” Small told The Press of Atlantic City.
Small, a Democrat, announced his candidacy after getting his petition to run Thursday afternoon. He will take on Councilman Frank Gilliam in the June Democratic primary, with the winner facing Republican Mayor Don Guardian.
Small said he will soon announce his slate of council running mates, supporters and platform. He said he’ll roll out his plan to address the city’s dire finances in February.
“My life experiences have prepared me for this moment,” Small said. “I think I’m a much different and better candidate than I was eight years ago.”
Small said he has the support of Councilmen Aaron “Sporty” Randolph, William “Speedy” Marsh and Kaleem Shabazz. Small also said he has backing from officials in Atlantic County and the state, but he said those endorsements will be announced later.
In a brief interview, Small touched on a range of issues, such as addressing the city’s crushing debt, reducing property taxes and improving recreation programs for youth and seniors.
“Atlantic City needs a lot of healing,” Small said.
Small didn’t attack Guardian, whom he worked closely with in their fight against a state takeover. Small said he had nothing bad to say about the mayor and said the two worked well together.
“Guardian and Small were on the back of the jersey, but Atlantic City was on the front,” Small said. “I shortly will differentiate my plans versus his plans. And hey, he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat. There’s an election coming up.”
In a statement, Guardian said: “Marty and I worked well as a team together last year when we fought against the state takeover. I wish him the best of luck this year.”
Asked about Gilliam, Small said his work in the community and consistency will speak for itself. He later said he was the only Democratic candidate “fighting to save the city,” something he said his campaign will make “crystal clear.”
Gilliam, who also said he was running for mayor, will meet with The Press next week for an interview about his candidacy.
“I wish Councilman Marty Small the best. However, he might consider himself working harder (to fight the state), but I think I work much smarter than he does,” Gilliam said. “The results of everything he’s done last year were pretty much wrong, and I consider myself to be on point with everything we were trying to prevent from happening last year.”
Gilliam later added, sarcastically: “If being Don Guardian’s water boy means he was fighting harder, then he deserves to be the next mayor.”
Small has served on City Council since 2004 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2008, when he lost a primary to former Mayor Lorenzo Langford. Small was twice acquitted of voter fraud charges.
“Politics hasn’t been kind to me or my family,” Small said of the case. “But at the end of the day, I’m still here and stronger than ever for it.”
Small vowed to be “up front and honest” with voters.
“People like real people,” Small said. “I’m not a flip-flopper. I’m not going to say one thing in front of one group of voters in the 5th Ward and change my story because it’s more convenient in the 2nd Ward.”