ATLANTIC CITY -- Marty Small Sr. was officially sworn in Tuesday as mayor of Atlantic City in a ceremony with a reminder of the problems plaguing his city: He asked the mother of a close friend who was shot to death last February to hold the Bible for him.
Like four Atlantic City mayors before him, he took office courtesy of the misdeeds of the mayor before him, in this case Frank Gilliam Jr., who resigned Oct. 10 after pleading guilty to federal charges of stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball club. He is to be sentenced Jan. 7.
Small, 45, the former City Council president and a Democrat, marked the occasion by remembering his close friend, Demond Tally, 45, a youth football coach who was shot to death Feb. 10 after leaving Small’s home across the street.
Tally’s mother, Verona, held the Bible, and Tally’s sister Mona and father Costello also gathered around as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop administered the oath. Small’s voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears as he took the oath for an office he has sought for years.
Tally’s murder took place three years after the murder of his son, Demond Cottman, 21, outside the Hamilton Mall. There have been no arrests in either case.
“I like to tell people, I’m Atlantic City born. I’m Atlantic City raised, and when I die I’m going to be Atlantic City dead,” Small told the packed City Council chambers, which cheered him on.
Last week, Small was sworn in as acting mayor by someone who was another blunt reminder of the city’s troubles: Ed Jacobs, the defense lawyer who successfully defended Small, twice, on voter fraud charges.
Small was voted in as mayor by an 8-0 vote of City Council on Tuesday, selected from three nominations from the city’s Democratic Committee. His term will run until Dec. 31, 2020, and a special election will be held in November 2020. Small, the former City Council president, abstained from the vote.
“One of my biggest supporters @bigmondd would of been the loudest one in the room tonight,” Small wrote earlier in the day in an Instagram, where he posted a photo of himself next to Tally.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, an ally of Small’s when he was unsuccessfully fighting the state takeover, swore Small in as mayor. Small said he hoped the developers who have revitalized Jersey City will come down and do the same for Atlantic City. Under the three-year-old takeover, state officials have control over city operations, assets, and personnel, usurping much of the power of the mayor.
City Councilman Moisse “Mo” Delgado cautioned Small: “There’s so many eyes on you to fail.”
“Please be patient with the City of Atlantic City,” Small said. “God is not through with us yet.”