A change could be coming to Atlantic City that could have a big impact on the gambling industry. At the end of the month, voters in the region are set to decide if the nine person council and elected mayor of the city should be changed to a five member council and a professional city manager. There are those who are for the change and those who are against. Big on the change is the owner of the Resorts Casino, who spend over $179k to lobby for the change. The Local 54 union is now in the ring, also contributing funds for the effort.
The vote is supposed to take place on March 31st but it is still unclear as to if this will be the end of the discussion. A group called Vote Yes has emerged as a supporter of the campaign, wearing One Job Should Be Enough shirts. As members of the Unite Here Local 54 union, the individuals in the group plan on voting yes for the change.
Former Mayor Don Guardian is a supporter of the government change as well who stated that it is about time the local union got involved and they are breathing new life into the city with their efforts. Spearing the effort of the union is Bob McDevitt, the Local 54 president.
According to McDevitt, the union lost time being involved in political causes due to the city ‘cratering’. There was the shutdown of venues and around 40% of members were lost. The downswing has now changed and the group is ready to engage.
On the opposite site, the Vote No group has an alliance of civic associations in the city along with the elected officials. These groups do not want to see the change and previously fought to avoid a state takeover, though it happened and is still going on in some capacity. The city was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time due to the many casino closings.
What Will Happen?
For the government to change, the referendum will have to be approved by 1,869 people at minimum. This would be around 30% if the same number of people vote as they did during the previous general election. To put the issue on the ballot, around 3,000 people showed their support and signed a petition. However, some of the signatures are being challenged. This issue will be reviewed in court next week.
Those who are for the change want to see a shift in government due to the struggles the city has seen in the past from corruption and poor spending habits. The city was in such disarray not long ago, former Governor Chris Christie approved a state takeover. The city was not qualified to handle their own spending and many question if those in power are able to do so now.
Issues seem to plague the city when it comes to leaders. In April, the former mayor, Frank M. Gilliam Jr. will be going to court after pleading guilty to stealing tens of thousands from a youth basketball charity, a group that he founded.
Those who are opposed to the government change feel that their rights would be at risk. They don’t want more government control instead of putting people in power based on a vote.
We shall see by the end of the month how the vote goes. There may be enough support to see the leadership roles changed in the hopes that Atlantic City can fully get back on their feet, with the right people in charge.