Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian defeated
ATLANTIC CITY — Republican Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has conceded defeat in his re-election effort.
City Council President Frank Gilliam declared victory Tuesday night after an aggressive get-out-the-vote operation and after dissatisfaction with a state takeover of the city.
Guardian was the first Republican in a generation to lead Atlantic City.
Hundreds of people in Atlantic City had already voted before Election Day, including at least one dead person. Absentee ballots were expected to play a decisive role in the race, with more than 2,500 applications having been made to county election officials.
Guardian alleged a voter fraud operation run on behalf of his Democratic opponent, City Council President Frank Gilliam Jr., was paying people to vote Democratic. Guardian said he believes absentee ballots have been cast on behalf of dead people and former residents.
The elections board did throw out one ballot found to have been cast in the name of a woman who died in 2015.
But the prosecutor's office has not responded to requests for comment.
Gilliam denies anyone from his campaign has done anything wrong, citing absentee ballots as a legal, time-honored way of collecting voter support.
IN OTHER RACES: A longtime Camden official was elected Tuesday as the city's new leader, one of several mayoral elections being held in New Jersey's major cities.
Democratic City Council President Francisco "Frank" Moran coasted to victory in a race where no Republicans were in the race.
Mayoral races were also being held in Jersey City — where voters were choosing between incumbent Steven Fulop and challenger Bill Matsikoudis — and in Hoboken, where six candidates were running to succeed Dawn Zimmer, who declined to run for a third term.
In Atlantic City, the former head of the city's special improvement district, Guardian, 64, tried in vain to fight off a state takeover by Gov. Chris Christie, a fellow Republican, who became convinced Guardian was not willing to take the steps needed to fix the city's finances in an era of slimmed-down gambling revenue.
Gilliam, 47, owns a student tutoring service and is completing a second four-year term on council. He supported Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy's plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and faulted Guardian for not heading off a state takeover.
Murphy won the governor's seat on Tuesday, beating GOP Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Independent candidate Joseph Polillo, 70, is retired from his job as Atlantic City's chief license inspector, and is making his second run for mayor. He blames Guardian and Gilliam for allowing the takeover.
Henry Green, 46, is the Green Party candidate. He works as a local radio show co-host and producer. His goals include ending the takeover, reducing property taxes and increasing youth recreation opportunities.