• Michelle Dawn Mooney

Gilliam declares victory in Atlantic City mayoral race

Atlantic City has a new mayor. Before all the wards were in, and with a 1,000-deficit in mail-in votes, Mayor Don Guardian conceded defeat Tuesday. Frank Gilliam, who risked losing his council seat to run for mayor, celebrated victory and talked of a new day in Atlantic City. In an election that included private investigators, wiretaps and a brief court appearance, Gilliam said his team allowed voter-fraud allegations to “roll off our back because we understood the importance of what the bigger prize was.” “It was never about Frank Gilliam and our personal issue,” he said. “It’s going to always be about the people.” And the people came out. Some with a mission. Muhammad Zia was a part of the South Asian community that helped bring Guardian victory four years ago. But on Tuesday, he was rooting for the mayor’s defeat. “He promised 75 to 100 jobs for our community,” Zia said. “He committed not one.” Former Mayor Lorenzo Langford, who lost to Guardian in a surprising upset four years ago, stopped by to offer congratulations. “This isn’t about me,” Langford said. “It’s a wonderful night for Frank. And a good night for the city of Atlantic City.” Gilliam celebrated his victory surrounded by his winning team of incumbent Councilmen Mo Delgado and George Tibbitt and newcomer Jeffree Fauntleroy II, who will fill Gilliam’s vacated seat. “I feel amazing,” Fauntleroy said. “The city came out in the rain and nasty weather to support us, and it means everything to me. I love this city and my city proved and showed they love me too.” Gilliam said he is looking forward to a new day with a new governor, with Democrat Phil Murphy easily defeating Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. “It’s also how Atlantic City’s going to thrive and make its way again,” he said already having a relationship with Murphy. “This is the first time in the history of Atlantic City — that I can recall — that we’re going to have a fruitful and prosperous relationship with a governor. I’m looking forward to sitting down as soon as I get in with Gov. Murphy and make sure that we’re on the same page. I believe that this will truly be a true partnership as opposed to a dictatorship that we’ve had over the past eight years under Gov. (Chris) Christie.” Craig Callaway and his brother David, who have been accused of illegally using messenger ballots, were at the celebration. When asked if he felt vindicated with the strong showing of his candidate at the polls, Craig Callaway just smiled. “I’m tired,” David Callaway said. “It was a long election.” The unofficial tally from the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office had Gilliam up by 79 votes over Guardian: 2,486 to 2,407.

This is the community that made the difference last time. And maybe this time… pic.twitter.com/W7p5II4ZzU — Lynda Cohen (@LyndaCohen) November 8, 2017

"I feel amazing," Fauntleroy tells me. "I love my city. And they proved and showed they love me too." pic.twitter.com/zdqhK6P3Fn — Lynda Cohen (@LyndaCohen) November 8, 2017

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