Feature photo of Michael Suleiman courtesy of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee
By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY – The Atlantic County Democratic Committee on Monday called for the creation of more minority districts in the county as the redrawing of maps are going through changes.
The statement was authored by Chairman Michael Suleiman, former commissioners candidate Dr. Thelma Witherspoon, Atlantic County Commissioner Ernest Coursey, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr., Pleasantville Mayor Judy M. Ward and Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who also serves as president of the Atlantic City NAACP.
Atlantic County currently has nine commissioners, five from specific districts and four at-large elected by the entire county. There are two African Americans on the board – Democrat Ernest Coursey in District 1, which covers Atlantic City, and Republican Andrew Parker III, which covers Egg Harbor Township and Hamilton Township.
“While the current County Commissioner map was necessary to preserve minority representation 10 or 20 years ago, we are no longer content with simply one majority-minority district,” the statement said.
“With a county that itself is on the verge of becoming majority-minority, we must have a County Commissioner map that creates additional minority districts so as to alleviate the suppressed influence that black and brown voters in Atlantic County currently have. To that end, we support the Democratic Commissioners’ proposed map and urge Judge Curio to vote in favor of it.”
Judge Georgia Curio, the retired Atlantic County Superior County judge, was added to the county’s redistricting commission as a tie-breaking vote in January with two Democratic and two Republican members.
“Our support of the Democratic map does not absolve our past disappointments in the Atlantic County Democratic Committee for not running more candidates of color for higher office. In a county that is 57% white and declining, this is not acceptable and must end,” the statement said.
“In addition to supporting this map, and to continue to grow the influence of minority communities, we will identify and support at least one person of color on the Legislative District 2 ticket next year.”
No candidates of color presented either party in the last Legislative District 2 election last year. The statement said the new LD 2 district will be 49% minority.
“Our legislative ticket must look like Atlantic County,” the statement said. “Electing a person of color to represent Atlantic County in the legislature will be a historic “first” and something we will strongly support.
“Additionally, we commit to putting more resources into boosting voter participation and turnout in minority communities, including voter registration drives and educating residents on early in-person voting.”
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