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Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford Faces Challenges

He’s sparred with Gov. Chris Christie and been shunned by his own political party, but Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford predicts he’ll be the one left standing when the votes are counted Tuesday night in the city’s mayoral primary.The Atlantic County Democratic Party backed county Freeholder Charles Garrett over Lorenzo. David Davidson Jr., the retired former head of Atlantic City’s police union, also is seeking the nomination.

The winner of the primary will start out with a large electoral advantage in a city where Democrats (12,288) vastly outnumber Republicans (1,570). There are 8,130 unaffiliated voters.

Incoming Mayor Faces Challenges

The next mayor will have to deal with a host of challenges, including continuing declines in revenue, and typical urban problems including crime, drugs and poverty.

He will also govern under an unusual arrangement in which state government has assumed a larger role in Atlantic City’s affairs than before. The state created a Tourism District encompassing the beaches, boardwalk, casinos and shopping districts, among other places, which gets additional police and sanitation help.

Christie, with whom Lorenzo Langford has repeatedly sparred over the past three years, has given Atlantic City five years to turn itself around before he will reconsider whether to allow casino gambling to expand to other areas of the state. That effort is about halfway through.

Lorenzo Langford touts his managerial experience in a time of shrinking revenues, and says he has brought in development projects, including a new supermarket, that benefit the city’s neighborhoods. The 57-year-old former casino dealer previously ran the city from 2002 to 2005, and won a special election in 2008 and a full term in 2009.

Garrett, 66, says the tourism district should be expanded citywide, and that crime and poor street maintenance need to be dealt with more effectively.

Davidson, 52, says his first act as mayor would be to lead a march from his inauguration to a crime-ridden public housing project nearby.

Republican Don Guardian, head of the city’s Special Improvement District, is running unopposed in the Republican primary, and will face the Democratic nominee in the November general election.

Unlike many past elections, the candidates expect the winner to be apparent fairly quickly from voting machine totals on election night. Large numbers of absentee ballots have sometimes swung elections in Atlantic City; 895 mail-in ballots were requested from Atlantic City voters this year, according to the county clerk’s office. More than 1,300 absentee ballots were cast in the last mayoral election in 2009. Completed ballots will be accepted through 8 p.m. on election night.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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