Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Mike Sulieman announced today the awarding of the July 7th county line to Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small.
The incumbent sworn into office when Mayor Frank Gilliam went to jail last year, Small will bracket with candidates backed by the organization, including CD2 contender Amy Kennedy, who’s facing off against Montclair Political Science Professor Brigid Harrison.
The mayor’s rival in the primary, Pam Thomas-Fields, earlier this week issued her endorsement for Kennedy.
Suleiman’s full statement on the county organization Small situation:
Mayor Small, Ms. Thomas-Fields, Mr. Whitehead, Councilwoman Dunston, & Mr. Hamilton,
First, congratulations on your resounding victory in Tuesday’s referendum. I appreciate that all of you
put the upcoming primary aside and worked side-by-side on this endeavor.
Over the last two days, I have taken a myriad of phone calls from elected officials in Atlantic City and representing Atlantic City, community leaders, county committee members, and other stakeholders regarding who should be authorized to run on the party line in July. Both the mayor’s seat and the 2nd Ward Council seat are one-year unexpired terms due to the resignation of Mayor Gilliam last October and the subsequent resignation of Mayor Small when he was appointed mayor. I recognize there has been quite a bit of discussion as to whether Mayor Small and Councilwoman Dunston are in fact “incumbents” given their appointments to unexpired terms.
This has undoubtedly been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as County Chairman, and it has literally taken me up to the last minute to make a decision. Ms. Thomas-Fields is a friend and community leader. I was proud to support her candidacy for Freeholder in 2013 and for a prospective appointment to the Casino Control Commission.
Party politics aside, one of the most important things for Atlantic City as we grapple with the coronavirus and the dire economic impact of the casino closings is continuity in government. While I respect the input from Atlantic City’s municipal committee, which I deferred to in the 2018 and 2019 elections, the fact remains that regardless of what happens in the primary election this July and the general election this November, the voters of Atlantic City will once again go back to the polls next year to determine who will serve the full four-year terms for mayor and Ward 2 Council, respectively.
Historically, the Atlantic County Democratic Committee has treated those appointed to unexpired terms in elected office as incumbents. All other things being equal, our incumbent officials are entitled to consideration when seeking re-election. For these reasons, and after much thought and deliberation over the past two days, it is my determination that both Mayor Small and Councilwoman Dunston are in fact incumbents and am hereby authorizing them to bracket with our county candidates in this year’s primary.
In closing, I will note that this decision will have no effect on which candidates seek the offices of mayor and Council next year and will have no effect on who will run on the party slogan at that time. Candidly, should Mayor Small and Councilwoman Dunston win their elections, and fail to adequately serve the residents of Atlantic City, they should be replaced next year, as should any other elected official that fails in his or her duties.
Furthermore, I will not insert myself in the primary campaign in Atlantic City and officially remain neutral. I will obviously commit to supporting the winners of the primary, whoever they are, and doing everything I can to make sure they are victorious in November.
I wish you all the best of luck in the primary.
Chairman Michael Suleiman