When Don Guardian takes his oath at noon on New Year’s Day and becomes the second Republican mayor in the history of Atlantic City — and the city’s first openly gay mayor — the pomp and circumstance that will surround what Guardian has touted as ‘A New Beginning for Atlantic City’ at his Inauguration, will likely become overshadowed by the neverending infighting going on among several of the nine Democrats who currently sit on City Council.
Once described as “one of the most dysfunctional legislative bodies in the state" by a Jersey Shore political talk radio host, City Council will also convene on New Year’s Day at its annual re-organization meeting, where there is expected to be a tussle over who will be named Council president.
The current president, William “Speedy” Marsh, 59, a longtime friend and ally of outgoing mayor Lorenzo Langford, who briefly served as the city’s interim mayor in 2007, was expected by some to step aside and use his clout to anoint a successor, someone younger who could help rebuild the city’s fractured Democratic party still reeling from Langford’s stunning November loss to Guardian.
That someone was expected to be Second Ward Councilman Marty Small, who Langford was reportedly touting as his heir apparent, an endorsement that reportedly frustrated other council members who felt that Small was not loyal to Langford and tried to use that misnomer to create distance between the 58-year-old Langford and the 39-year-old Small, the city’s most high-profile Democrats.
One could envision a scenario where Marsh, Langford’s old lieutenant, would pass the baton to Small, Langford’s young lieutenant, and all three men would work hand-in-hand to reclaim the mayor’s seat in 2017, with Small at the top of the ticket, and the elder statesmen of the city’s Democrats, Marsh and Langford, working behind the scenes to realign the party and pump some much needed new blood into its veins.
Instead, Marsh and Small, and perhaps a third councilmember, will duke it out to become Council president, and the city’s Democrats will remain fractured and fighting, while Guardian moves into his new digs on the seventh floor of Atlantic City’s City Hall.