By Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed. | AC Joseph Media Guest Blogger
With the looming Tuesday, May 12, Atlantic City Referendum, two of the three viable Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination in the scheduled July 2 primary election, this blogger was able to contact responded to the following question: On Tuesday, May 12, registered voters in Atlantic City will decide whether to change the Atlantic City form of government and discard the current mayor-council form. Where do you stand on the referendum yes or no?
Will Cunningham said in a written statement. “Atlantic City is the largest economic municipality in the Second Congressional District. Its vitality is critical, not just to Atlantic City, but all of South Jersey. I am proud to partner with leaders in Atlantic City, Pleasantville and Hamilton Township to encourage Atlantic City residents to Vote ‘No’ on the change of government vote. The residents of Atlantic City whose families live there and who cherish their community must not be excluded. The change in government is undemocratic, full stop. Generations have fought too hard to vote to allow this power grab by outsiders, I support the Vote No movement, wholeheartedly.”
Amy Kennedy issued a statement reading, “I do not support the change of government referendum. The people of Atlantic City should continue to decide who is best to represent them, not someone who knows nothing about the community.”
Cunningham and Kennedy added their voices to a growing chorus of opponents: the present council members and mayor, elected by the voters of the iconic shore community, the Atlantic City branch and New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, which voted to adopted a resolution opposing the proposed council municipal manager form of government, prominent faith leaders in the African American community, various Latino activists, organizers from Food and Water Watch, civic associations, and many city residents from diverse communities.
On Tuesday, May 12 ballot the yes and no question will have many Atlantic City residents shaking their heads. They will be asked to accept a change of the legendary six member of council, elected by their neighbors to represented six different wards in the city and three council members elected at-large through the direct votes from all neighborhoods in the city.
Under the propose yes vote, the number of council will shrink to five member of council elected at-large, elected not to represent specific areas of the city, where they can feel the pulse of the residents, by at an at-large position responsible to all the residents of the entire city, which detaches them from the communities they live in. Also, the yes vote, eliminates the office of an elected mayor, and shift the responsibilities of mayor to a city manager, elected by a majority of the five members of council.
On Tuesday, May 12, Atlantic City voters will be looking down the barrel of a ballot that will strip them of their power. Their only defense in this referendum will be a cache of No Votes.
Bio: Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas is an award-winning columnist, veteran civil rights activist and former officer with the Gloucester County NAACP. He is the cofounder and retired director of Philadelphia Prison System’s Office of Community Justice and Outreach.
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