What to Know
- Atlantic City’s incumbent mayor took an early lead Tuesday night in an election conducted almost totally by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it could take several days for a winner to be known.
- In preliminary unofficial results, Small jumped out to a 2-1 lead over his closest challenger in the Democratic primary, Pamela Thomas-Fields. A third candidate, Jimmy Whitehead, was far behind.
- Tom Forkin was running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Atlantic City’s incumbent mayor took an early lead Tuesday night in an election conducted almost totally by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it could take several days for a winner to be known.
In a small sampling of unofficial results, Small jumped out to a 2-1 lead over his closest challenger in the Democratic primary, Pamela Thomas-Fields. A third candidate, Jimmy Whitehead, was far behind those two.
Tom Forkin was running unopposed in the Republican primary.
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As of 10:30 p.m., the Atlantic County Clerk's Office had posted totals for only about 1,000 votes that had been counted. About 14,000 ballots were mailed to Atlantic City voters, though it was not immediately clear how many had been sent in to election officials. Ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday evening will still be accepted and counted in coming days.
The primaries were to choose nominees for the general election in November that will be held amid immense challenges in the seaside resort.
The eventual winner's tasks include leading the East Coast gambling resort through the coronavirus pandemic that shuttered its casinos for 3 1/2 months and left thousands out of work; healing from a spasm of violence that left stores looted, and turning around a city with a history of corruption so long and colorful that HBO based a hit TV series on it.
The state still has control of most major decisions, competition from casinos in nearby states remains fierce, and it's anyone's guess when smoking, drinking and eating bans will be lifted inside the gambling halls.
Democratic Small is seeking a one-year term. The former City Council President took over as mayor last October when his predecessor, Frank Gilliam, pleaded guilty to stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball program he founded. Gilliam remains free pending sentencing, which is tentatively scheduled for later this month. Small, 46, served on the City Council since 2003.
Thomas-Fields, 52, is a longtime city worker whose current position is in the planning and economic development department. She formerly ran Main Street Atlantic City, a group devoted to helping the city's downtown.
Whitehead, 63, is a Navy veteran and humanitarian aid organizer. He held several federal appointments under Republican and Democratic presidents.
On the Republican side, Tom Forkin, 57, a school teacher and surfing instructor who formerly was the city's assistant solicitor, ran unopposed for his party's nomination.
Atlantic City's voter base is heavily Democratic, and the winner of the Democratic primary has usually gone on to win the November general election. But that's not always the case; Republican Don Guardian won an unexpected victory in 2013 before losing to Gilliam four years later.
The winner of the November general election would then face a campaign for a full four-year term in Nov. 2021.