By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
[UPDATE] Atlantic City council voted Tuesday, Oct. 15 to remove the interim title from Small’s name and make him officially mayor until an election November 2020 can be held to fill the remainder of Frank Gilliam’s term in office.
ATLANTIC CITY – Marty Small, Atlantic City council president who ran for mayor twice will be officially sworn in Friday as the new mayor of the resort city.
Small, who becomes the fourth African-American mayor in the history of his iconic Boardwalk resort city, replaces Frank Gilliam, who resigned Thursday after he entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Camden.
In a brief interview with Front Runner New Jersey Thursday night, Small said his focus immediately is go get beyond the distraction caused by the Gilliam resignation and continue build the city’s relationship with its community stakeholders and the State of New Jersey.
“It still feels surreal,” said Small, who lost to Gilliam in a heated and sometimes personal Democratic primary in 2017. Gilliam went on to unseat incumbent Mayor Don Guardian in the general election that November.
“I don’t take any pleasure in what happened to the mayor,” Small said. “God bless him and his family. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow and looking forward to answering the clarion call.”
Small said his knowledge serving as city council president will aid him well as he moves across the hall until the election next November to fill out the remainder Gilliam’s term.
“I’m going to continue to do what I’ve done here,” Small said. “I’ve lived here in Atlantic City my whole life. I’m going to continue to be me and try to uplift the people of Atlantic City and make it better.”
While Small did not close the door on running to keep the seat next year, he said for now that is not his focus.
“I’m just concentrating on tomorrow and we’ll take it from there,” Small said. “First and foremost, I’m already active in the government. This is nothing new to me. I’m just going on to the administrative side. You have to inspect before you expect. I’ll take some time to see things and take it from there.”
The State of New Jersey, under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, took over Atlantic City’s finances in 2016 and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has continued that control when he took office last year. Small said he has no problems with his relationship with state officials.
“I’ve been working with the state since they’ve been here,” Small said.
In that FRNJ interview that ran Aug. 9, Small talked about a conversation he had with Bishop R. Fulton Hargrove after the primary loss which now appears prophetic with the recent revelations.
“I was sitting at my house with my running mate down and out and thinking ‘this was really my time,'” Small told FRNJ in August. “(Hargrove) looked at me and said, ‘You’re right, this was your time, but just not your turn.’ I sat back and that stuck with me. I said, I will continue to work hard and do the best job I can as far as fostering a great working relationship with the state. … My goal is always Atlantic City being the best place it can be.”
Small is currently dean of athletic, recreational and governmental affairs at Principle Academy Charter in Egg Harbor Township and his wife, LaQuetta Small, is principal at Atlantic City High School.
Gilliam entered his plea for one count of wire fraud that ended his run as mayor in front of U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez. He will be sentenced Jan. 7 facing a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a potential fine of $250,000.
“Mayor Gilliam took advantage of his victims’ desire to assist underprivileged children by falsely representing that the money contributed to the AC Starz Basketball Club would go to pay for school supplies or to support youth basketball,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.
“Instead, he spent the money on himself. When a public official like Gilliam abuses either a public or a private trust to commit a fraud, this Office and our agency partners will investigate and prosecute that official. The people of New Jersey are entitled to better,” he continued.
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