AC Mayor Debate: Marty Small Defends Record Against Tom Forkin, Jimmy Whitehead


By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY — In their lone media debate of the campaign season Tuesday night, Atlantic City Democratic Mayor Marty Small, Sr. vigorously defended his record on various subjects against Republican Tom Forkin and independent Jimmy Whitehead.

The debate was sponsored by the William Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University and the Press of Atlantic City, and held at the Stockton University Atlantic City. The debate was moderated by John Froonjian, executive director of the Hughes Center. Clyde Hughes, editor of Front Runner New and Buzz Keough, editor of The Press asked questions.

The candidates sparred over numerous issues from the how to make Atlantic City more attractive to young non-gamblers, to the state’s control of city’s finances, to policing, flooding and the PILOT program.


The liveliest exchanges happened between Small and Whitehead. The independent constantly challenged Small on street conditions, the location of the new supermarket among other issues. Small, in turn, disputed Whitehead’s facts and touted his stewardship as mayor.

Forkin repeatedly charged that the state’s takeover of Atlantic City finances, which he said Small supports, is unconstitutional and has left the city with a tremendous debt, leaving the city under the foot of state officials.


Other independent candidates who did not participate in the debate are current at-large councilman Mo Delgado, former Hainesport, N.J. mayor Steve Layman and local physician Dr. Daud Panah.

See all of their answers at Tuesday’s debate in the video below.

Here are the questions the candidates were asked:

  • What can the city do to make the tourist resort more attractive to non-gamblers and to families?
  • What should the city be doing to beautify itself? How can the Special Improvement District be encouraged to do more with planters, trees and greenery?
  • A state Assembly candidate took shot in a recent debate at the city over policing, saying the department has been defunded and is currently 60 officers down. First, what is your response? And can the city afford to increase the size of the force given the high expense of public safety salaries and benefits, budget constraints from the state and the city’s deb service?
  • Sticking with public safety, the crime rate in the resort dropped during the pandemic, but there have been recent high-profile instances of violent crime. Do you have any plans for addressing crime as we get past the pandemic?

Mayor Small has been a partner in the state takeover, which was recently extended another four years by a state law sponsored by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic. 

For Marty Small:

  • Are you satisfied with results of the state takeover? Is it justified in your opinion?

For the candidates:

  • Would you see yourself as a partner with the state, or would you oppose its continued oversight?
  • Do you support proposed changes in PILOT legislation to remove sports and online gaming revenues from the calculation to determine how much casinos pay in lieu of taxes? Why or why not?
Early arriving crowd for the Atlantic City Mayoral Debate at Stockton University Atlantic City on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
  • Flooding is an issue in all shore communities, and planners predict rising seas will only make it worse. Is the city taking flood control into consideration when it pushes for development of large open tracts like Bader Field and areas of the Inlet?
  • Do you think the supermarket as planned is the best option for solving the city’s food scarcity issues? Are there other things that should be done?
  • City Council has voted to end the needle exchange program in the city. Did you agree with that decision? How should we address drug addiction, which is not going away?
From the media chair: From left to right, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., independent Jimmy Whitehead and Republican challenger Tom Forkin.
  • Atlantic City always underperforms on child and maternal health measures. Is the city doing enough to help these vulnerable populations? What more would you do?
  • City Council has restricted cannabis retail sales to certain areas of the city and prohibited it on the Boardwalk. Do you agree with that decision? What would you do differently?
  • How would you find the tens of millions of dollars necessary to fix the structural deterioration of the Boardwalk? Would you further restrict vehicles? And do you feel the tram cars should continue?

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