September 15, 2022

Who Is Responsible For What In Atlantic City? And How Can Citizens Have Their Say?

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Today is Democracy Day, and Route 40 is joining newsrooms across the country to shine a light on threats to democracy and what action is needed to protect it.

Atlantic City is different from other municipalities in New Jersey. Citizens can directly elect the mayor and a local council representative, but planning and development for large swathes of city property are under state control through the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. In addition, all spending by the city government is overseen by the state, under emergency powers enacted in 2016 and extended in 2021.

Local residents and citizens have limited opportunities to engage with state decision-makers in Atlantic City. The state-appointed Atlantic City Restart And Recovery Working Group does not meet publicly or publish meeting minutes. A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Community Affairs said on Sept. 15 she did not know when their next meeting would take place. This group is the last remaining vestige of more substantial state involvement in the city that included the Atlantic City Executive Council, the Atlantic City Coordinating Council and the Atlantic City Initiatives Office, which were folded into the Restart and Recovery Working Group earlier this year. Meeting details from the Executive Council’s meetings since 2018 are available here.

The City Of Atlantic City Government

The City of Atlantic City’s council and mayor is directly elected by local resident citizens. They make decisions about planning and spending in the city’s neighborhoods that are outside of the tourism district. 

Council and committee meetings are open to the public and are also broadcast live to the city’s website.

We are reaching out to members of the council about how they would prefer to be contacted and we will update this page with their details.

  • Mayor Marty Small was appointed mayor in 2019 after previous Mayor Frank Gilliam resigned. He was elected to a one-year term in a special election in 2020 and re-elected in 2021 to a four-year term
  • 1st Ward Councilman Aaron “Sporty” Randolph is serving his third five-year term and will face re-election in 2025. His phone number and email address are available on the city’s page (we tried emailing him today and received no immediate response)
  • 2nd Ward Councilwoman LaToya Dunstan . She can be reached via Facebook (we tried today and received no immediate response)
  • 3rd Ward Councilman Kaleem Shabazz was first elected in 2015. His current term ends in 2023. His phone number and email address are available here 
  • 4th Ward Councilman Md. Hossain Morshed was first elected in 2019. He was arrested on Sept. 1 2022 and did not respond to a request for comment as of Sept. 15. He can be reached via Facebook
  • 5th Ward Councilman Muhammad “Anjum” Zia was elected in 2019. He can be reached via Facebook
  • 6th Ward Councilman Jesse Kurtz was first elected in 2015 and his current term expires in 2023. His contact details are available here
  • Council President and Councilman-at-large George Tibbitt was first elected in 2014. His contact details are available here
  • Councilwoman-at-large Stephanie Marshall was first elected in 2021 on a ticket with Mayor Small, Councilman Weekes and Councilman Tibbitt. No contact details are available for her and we could not reach her
  • Councilman-at-large Bruce Weekes was elected with Marshall, Tibbitt and Small in 2021. No contact details re available for him and we could not reach him

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority

The CRDA controls planning and “clean and safe initiatives” in the tourism district, which is about half of the entire city and encompasses the area around the Bboardwalk and marina-district casinos, Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus and the central business district, which comprises Tanger Outlets’ The Walk as well as the convention center and planned ShopRite.

CRDA is a state authority with a board of directors that makes decisions about its budget and staff, alongside an executive director who is directly appointed by the governor. Current Executive Director Sean Patwell was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy in March 2022. The executive director and most of the board members live outside of Atlantic City, and their contact details are not shared with the public.

CRDA holds public meetings usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 2pm. The authority may also hold public planning hearings.

The board of 17 directors is structured like this:

  • Six public members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate for four-year terms 
  • Two members appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the President of the State Senate for a four-year term
  • Two members appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly for a four-year term
  • Two casino representatives appointed by the Governor for two-year terms.
  • One member of the Casino Control Commission appointed by the Governor, currently CCC Chairman James Plousis
  • The Mayor of Atlantic City Marty Small
  • The State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio
  • The State Attorney General Matthew Platkin
  • One member appointed by the Governor, who shall be either the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development or the Department of Community Affairs, or the Governor may appoint, in lieu thereof, an additional member of the Casino Control Commission as a voting member: currently, Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs Sheila Oliver

State Legislators

New Jersey is divided into 40 different districts and Atlantic City is part of District 2. Atlantic City’s state representatives from District 2 are Senator Vincent Polistina (Republican), Assemblyman Donald Guardian (Republican) and Assemblywoman Claire Swift (Republican). Their contact details are publicly available and you can check their voting records on the state legislature’s website.

Polistina won a general election in November 2021, replacing previous state Senator Chris Brown, who retired. Polistina’s term ends in 2024.

Guardian and Swift were also elected in the November 2021 general election and their term also expires in 2024.

Federal Officials

The current members of the U.S. Senate from New Jersey are Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat) and Senator Cory Booker (Democrat). Atlantic City is part of New Jersey’s District 2, which is represented in Congress by Representative Jefferson Van Drew (Republican).  

Menendez has been a senator since 2006 and his current term expires in 2024, while Booker has been a senator since 2013 and his current term expires in 2027. Van Drew was first elected as a Democrat in 2019 and re-elected as a Republican in 2020. He will be up for re-election again in the November 2022 general election.

Elections

Atlantic City residents can vote in school board, municipal, state and general elections if they are eligible to register to vote. Atlantic County publishes an election guide on its website that includes details about who is eligible to vote, how to register and when and where elections take place.

The Incarcerated Population

Atlantic City residents who are incarcerated are now counted at their address prior to incarceration for both congressional and state legislative redistricting, under legislation enacted by Governor Phil Murphy in 2021. This matters because Atlantic City has the state’s second-highest rate of incarceration, with 479 residents in state prisons in 2020.

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