On September 15 Assembly Bill 3122was reported out of the Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee. A3122 would allow casino employees to run for elected office in Atlantic City. Atlantic City’s Assemblyman Vince Polistina is a member of that Committee. Asm. Polistina is a co-sponsor of A3122.
The Press of Atlantic City published an editorial in support of A3122. They summarize the situation as follows:
A state Assembly committee has taken an important step toward expanding the pool of people who can hold elective office in Atlantic City. The rest of the Legislature should follow suit.
Current state law prohibits elected city officials from being employed by a casino. The effect of that ban has been to make nearly a third of the resort’s adult population ineligible to hold city office. They would have to give up their livelihoods to pursue public service.
A bill (A-3122) sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, would lift that prohibition. It would also allow a small exemption in the state ban against casino employees making political contributions at the state and local levels. Under Burzichelli’s bill, casino employees could contribute to their own campaigns for city office.
Under the current law casino employees are not able to run for municipal offices in Atlantic City. Lawmakers did not want such a large employer to exert undue influence on the political process. Yet Local 54 employees are able to run for elected office. The union can also effectively influence the casino licensing process, as they so successfully did with Columbia Sussex and Tropicana.
District 2 legislators, Assemblymen Vince Polistina and John Amodeo and Senator James Whelan are all trying to restore the rights of casino employees to run for elected office. While I am torn on the issue, there is an inherent unfairness that Local 54 and UAW employees can run for elected office, but not casino employees. Casino employees running for office will also help to challenge the existing structures and coalitions of corruption in Atlantic City government.