Don Guardian is Atlantic City’s first Republican mayor in twenty-three years, but he is also the city’s first openly gay elect for the job.
Congressman Frank LoBiondo swore in Guardian, who is sixty years old, on January 1. Supporters gathered in celebration outside City Hall with flags and a dancing Chinese dragon.
“Today is a new day and a new beginning for Atlantic City,” said Guardian’s chief of staff, Chris Filiciello.
The new mayor says that while he believes in the separation of church and government, he also believes that religion and “life experiences” have given him better ability to serve the city.
“Yes, religion needs to be separate from government,” said Guardian. “But the tenets of religion are essential to good government.”
He added, “I’m an openly gay, white Republican Roman Catholic. I’m a good man, and I make good decisions. I bring that to the job.”
During his term, Guardian plans to expand housing, redevelop Bader Field (a city-owned, public-use airport), and meet with casino owners to develop a fair taxing system. Within the last six years, the city lost its place as America’s second-largest gambling hotspot, causing casino profits to drop by upwards of 40 percent as well as the loss of thousands of jobs.
“The first couple years are going to be tough,” said Guardian. “We’re going to be trimming the budget and looking for additional funding from the state and federal governments to help us.”
Previously, Guardian served twenty years as the director of Atlantic City’s Special Improvement District.