New Jersey Assembly Approves Proposal To Allow Employees to Run for Public Office

On September 25th, 2008, the New Jersey General Assembly approved a bill that would remove the ban on casino employment for Atlantic City officials, giving permission to casino employees to run for the City Council and Mayor.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli, a Democrat from Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester said that the legislation potentially opened the way to some 8,900 casino employees running for public office. The proposal has been recognized as an option to improver the list of prospective candidates for the resort, where in recent years three Councilmen have resigned from their position and face bribery charges.

The bill passed in a sixty-six-eleven vote with three abstentions, following some Republican concern over local officials potentially using the gambling halls for important positions. Assemblyman Richard Merkt, a Republican from Morris said that he is also apprehensive about expanding the influence of the casino industry in the politics of Atlantic City. Merkt, who worked as a Deputy Attorney General with the Casino Control Commission between 1983 and 1986, stated that the laws made almost thirty years ago have worked.

Now he said that he believed that casinos would only seek to expand their sphere of influence. The bill still has to be reviewed by the Senate and get the approval of Governor Jon S. Corzine before it becomes law. The Senate is expected to consider the measure this fall.