By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY – Atlantic County faith leader Bishop R. Fulton Hargrove urged Atlantic City residents this week to mail in their ballots on the government change issue and vote “No” because it does not reflect the best interest of the community.
Hargrove, president of the 90-plus church Fellowship of Churches of Atlantic City and Vicinity, made his comments to NAACP Atlantic City President Kaleem Shabazz and Legal Redress Chair Yolanda Melville during the WEHA-FM radio show “The NAACP Speaks” on Tuesday.
The weekly show airs on WEHA-FM (88.7 and 100.3) every Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. and highlights various people in the local community and the NAACP. The live-streaming session also included New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
The May 12 vote would change Atlantic City form of government from a “strong mayor” form – where the mayor is directly voted on by the public and runs the administration – to a “weak mayor” form – where an all at-large city council picks a mayor from its own ranks and a city manager, who is not publicly elected, will would run the city.
Hargrove said the district system were various areas of the city are guaranteed representation along with directly electing the mayor has been hard-fought gains over the years and could be taken away with the change of government.
“We as a people need to stand up for ourselves,” Hargrove said. “… If we don’t take advantage of what we have, we don’t lose some things, we lose everything. When we say ‘everything,’ it doesn’t just mean the mayor’s office. It extends itself to the water company, the utilities municipal authority. It extends itself to the jewel of Atlantic City in Bader Field.
“It extends itself to all of our police officers and the great leadership of Chief Henry White having to lose their jobs and then re-apply…” Hargrove added. “It’s mandatory that we vote.”
Hargrove said the representation of minorities on city council is “as good as it could get” and the fiscal responsibility has been good. He said the relationship with current Mayor Marty Small, the council and community “may not be perfect but it’s good.” He added that the current system gives the Atlantic City residents the representation it deserves in city government.
Small’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Pamela Thomas-Fields, is also telling residents to vote “No” in the special referendum.
Grewal was the second guest on the program, who said he did not believe he could do his job as the chief law enforcement officer in the state if he didn’t have a staff and workforce that reflected New Jersey culturally.
“Studies have bore out that organizations operate better when they are diverse organizations,” Grewal said. “… I’ve worked very hard to increase diversity among our ranks to make sure we’re pushing out employment opportunities whether it’s going to job fairs, places where we can recruit a diverse and talented legal pool and law enforcement officers because we operate better when we reflect the communities we serve.”
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