Atlantic City welcomed its new mayor with a packed council chambers that spilled out into the hallway New Year’s Day.
“It’s a new chapter in the books,” Frank Gilliam said before walking into the room to take the oath. “I look forward to getting our house in order for the people. This wasn’t just a victory for the Gilliam family but a victory for the citizenry of Atlantic City.”
Also sworn in were running mates Mo Delgado, who won re-election, and Jeffree Fauntleroy II, who won his first elected office.
Fauntleroy, who bears the name of his retired Atlantic City police officer father, had his grandfather give him the oath.
“That is everything,” Fauntleroy said of Frank Oatman swearing him in. “That’s like a legacy there.”
The fourth man on the ticket, Councilman George Tibbitt, did not attend.
It didn’t take long to see where allegiances seem to lie on the dais, with the vote for council president a 5-3 split, as Marty Small kept the title. Vice President Aaron “Sporty” Randolph became vice president with the same split.
During a vote on the City Council meeting schedule Delgado and Small got into a tiff over whether there should be more than one meeting a month.
Small challenged Gilliam for the Democratic mayoral nomination. He then publicly backed outgoing Mayor Don Guardian in the general election.
“Same old, same old,” someone in the audience said.
“You’re still divided,” Imam Amin Muhammad warned them during public comment. “Atlantic City needs unity. We love you, but if you don’t serve the people of Atlantic City, we will join together to remove you.”
“These petty differences, they need to be overcome,” said Linda Steele, past president of the Atlantic City NAACP.
But the council insisted they are all working together, regardless of differences.
“What you saw earlier is not going to be tolerated,” Small said after public comment. “We are here to handle the people’s business and get out of here with no grandstanding.”
He acknowledge losing to Gilliam.
“Guess what. I lost,” he said. “No big deal. I woke up the next day and I was still Marty Small.”
“When it comes to the city of Atlantic City, we have to give it our all,” Delgado said. “Too often, we allowed our own personal agendas to get in the way. We have to stop it.”
Councilman Kaleem Shabazz noted that the votes that were about issues affecting the people, it was nearly unanimous.
“Some of us, we hold on to our old oppositions,” Delgado said. “And what does that help now? How does that help us progress?”
He said that while he may not agree with Small’s decisions, “but his title (of council president) and position, I respect.”