Comparison Of Atlantic City, NJ Government In 1980 Versus 2022
42 years ago today, this is what the local government looked like in Atlantic City.
In 1980, there was a non-partisan, 5-Member Commission form of government versus the current 9-Member and 1 Mayor partisan form of government.
In the Commission form of government, the top 5 finishers every four years (on the second Tuesday in May), won and served for four-year terms as both the legislative and executive branches of government.
The Mayor was selected among the five successful Commission candidates. In this form of government, the voters do not pick their Mayor.
In a Commission form of government, the elected officials have total accountability, A Mayor can’t blame City Council for obstructing and Vice versa.
The Commission form is also dramatically leaner in terms of the size of the governmental bureaucracy.
It was a big mistake when Atlantic City changed from a City Commission to a Mayor-Council format. Atlantic City made an even bigger mistake when it changed from a non-partisan Mayor-Council to a partisan Mayor-Council setup.
The results have been so disastrous that the Atlantic City government has not been able to stand on its own two feet since the state of New Jersey formally took over The World’s Playground more than 12 years ago.
The regular political bickering that takes place between political parties is further exacerbated disproportionately because of the wealth of the multi-billion dollar Casino City.
We want to thank Jim Pasquale, son of the late, great City Commissioner and Atlantic City Police Chief, Joseph Pasquale for these great, historical photos which detail the results of the City Commission election of 1980.
An astounding 26 candidates ran for office in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Tuesday, May 13, 1980.
No one ran as a Republican or Democrat. The elections were held on the 2nd Tuesday in May and not the first Tuesday in November, expressly to make them less political and completely non-partisan.
It is such a philosophical difference when you have people versus political parties competing against one another.
The Commission form of government is more accountable to the people because it gives the elected officials nowhere to hide.
An interesting note, Kaleem Shabazz ran in the election of 1980, Finishing 15th out of 26 candidates on the ballot.
42 years later, Shabazz is now a sitting member of the current Atlantic City Council. He is the only one of these 26 candidates who presently serve in elective office more than 4 decades later.
Seth Grossman finished a respectable 12th in this very crowded field.
Grossman later became an elected Atlantic City Councilman and Atlantic County Freeholder.
Additionally, Grossman was elected to be the Republican Nominee for The United States House of Representatives in 2018; where he ran a credible race against Congressman Jeff Van Drew, losing the General Election by a roughly 54-46 margin.
Van Drew has since switched to the Republican Party and was re-elected by a wide margin versus Amy Kennedy in the 2020 election.
Van Drew is running for re-re-election to a 3rd term this November 8, 2022.
TIDBITS FROM THE ATLANTIC CITY COMMISSION ELECTION OF 1980
- New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Matthews won the 5th and final Commission seat in 1980. New Jersey laws now preclude a person from holding more than one elective office.
- Former Atlantic City Commissioner, The late, great Pierre Hollingsworth finished 8th.
- Joseph Polillo finished 9th.
- A future Atlantic City Councilman and Council President, Walter Collette finished 14th in the election of 1980.
When you go through the list of all 26 candidates from the 1980 election, each name has a great story behind it.
SOURCES: Jim Pasquale & the Wednesday, May 14, 1980 edition of The Press of Atlantic City.
Atlantic City's Firsts Throughout History