By David Madden and Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) — Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian delivered his annual, unofficial “State of the City” address to a business luncheon.
The hour-long speech before several thousand people at the Golden Nugget Casino centered on the city’s ongoing efforts to bring its spending down to levels the state of New Jersey might like. The state took over the city in October, although the city still controls day-to-day operations for the time being.
Guardian outlined projects planned for the future, as well as cuts made in the city’s budget to date, which include the loss of 370 jobs.
Another 55 are expected to go this year.
With that as a backdrop, the mayor confirmed what has been common knowledge for months. He wants a second term.
“The first four years were tough, but I’m going to ask the people to convince them that I’m the best person to lead them for the next four years,” Guardian told KYW Newsradio after the address.
He will face opposition from at least a couple of city council members pondering their own run. As for the state takeover, Guardian has made no secret of his disdain for the process in general and the man who forced the issue, Governor Chris Christie. Guardian told the crowd he can’t wait for Christie to be replaced in January of 2018, hopefully by someone he feels would be more receptive to Atlantic City’s efforts to correct its own problems.
To that end, the Republican Guardian wouldn’t rule out endorsing a Democrat to replace Christie.
“If you’re telling me that a Republican candidate is going to say ‘Nope, we want the takeover. We want the state to continue to run it’, and a Democrat doesn’t, like Phil Murphy has said, then yeah I have to do what’s best for the people,” Guardian said. “The city needs a governor that can walk with them and not run over them,” he added.
“So far there hasn’t been a clash of the titans yet, but we’ll see what 2017 brings,” said Marty Small, the City Council’s president.
While Atlantic City is looking to move forward in 2017 the Taj Mahal Casino which closed last year is sitting pat. Owner Carl Icahn said he doesn’t plan to re-open it or let anyone else. He’s petitioned the state to surrender the casino license and is seeking a deed restriction so no one who might buy the property can re-open it as a casino.
“It’s a great property, I really hope that Mr. Icahn if he doesn’t want to build sells it without restriction. Let someone else come in and do it,” Guardian said.