Voice Your Choice: Coursey, Macon Square Off in Atlantic County, District 1

EDITOR’S NOTE: VOICE YOUR CHOICE is an ongoing feature that spotlights political candidates of color who are running for office in South Jersey on Nov. 8. If you have a suggestion for candidates to feature, contact editor Clyde Hughes at clyde.hughes@yahoo.com.

BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY — While Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. is not on the ballot in the Atlantic County District 1 Commissioners race, this race has turned into a proxy war between his supporters and detractors along with intra-Democratic Party intrigue.

District 1, which covers all of Atlantic City along with Ventnor, Margate and Longport, is currently represented by longtime office holder Ernest Coursey, Jr., who is also Small’s chief of staff. He is being challenged by Republican business owner Vern Macon, who is making what appears to be a surprisingly strong run for the post.

Paid for by Tim Alexander for Congress

What has made the race interesting is that Macon has won the support of two Atlantic City councilmen that were on Small’s ticket in the last city election. The support of Democrats Bruce Weekes and George Tibbett comes as a surprise loss for Coursey.

Macon already had the support of Ward 2 Democratic councilwoman LaToya Dunston, a longtime foe of Small, and Atlantic City’s lone Republican on council Jesse Kurtz, giving her support of four of the nine-member council members.

In campaign material, Macon has taken typical Republican themes such as making communities safer, supporting parent and family rights and governing “honestly and responsibly.”

Her campaign has attacked Coursey for his experience, for being a former elected Atlantic City councilman and county commissioner since 2013, calling it “30 years of failure,” but offered little about herself.

There is also a ballot measure on the ballot changing how municipal elections are run that also seeks to diminish the power Small and the Atlantic County Democratic Party. Small is enjoying his first full four-year term in office after replacing embattled Frank Gilliam as mayor and winning a series of elections over the past two years to hold the office.

Mayor Marty Small. Photo courtesy of Marty Small campaign

Front Runner New Jersey reached out to both candidates without success.

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