The de facto leader of the Atlantic City Democratic organization wants the March 31 referendum to change the form to be postponed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout New Jersey.
“This is very serious, and precautions should be taken,” said former Atlantic City council president Craig Callaway. “I think the governor should hold this off.”
The ballot initiative would cut the number of council seats in the city from nine to five and replace the mayor’s seat with a council-appointed municipal manager.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said today state is not currently intending to postpone or cancel the election.
“I don’t anticipate shutting down the vote on the 31st of March,” Oliver said.
Callaway opposes the measure and predicted that “people will reject this overwhelmingly.”
“So much is at stake for the future of Atlantic City,” he said. “They need to make a decision soon.”
The former city councilman says that “turnout will be low with or without coronavirus.”
“We’ll beat this today. We’ll beat this tomorrow. We’ll beat this on the 31st. We’ll beat this on the 31st of next year, whenever they decide to do it,” Callaway said. “Bring it on.”
A group led by Unite Here Local 54 casino workers union president Bob McDevitt, Resorts Casino owner Morris Bailey and former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak got enough signatures on a petition to force a special election that would eliminate the direct election of mayors in Atlantic City.
On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge rejected allegations made the Callaway organization that petitions that triggered the referendum were fraudulent.