We're just a few weeks away from one of the most important elections in our lifetime. We're selecting a new president, members of Congress, county and local officials.
Of near equal significance is one of the most important ballot questions in local history. The magnitude of this cannot be overstated. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, ballot question No. 1 holds the cards in terms of South Jersey's economy.
The Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce and the No North Jersey Casinos Coalition is holding a get out the vote rally from 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Oct. 27, at Kennedy Plaza in Atlantic City, directly adjacent to Boardwalk Hall.
I have been asked and have agreed to serve as master of ceremonies for this important event. We will be carrying the rally live on WPG Talk Radio 104.1 FM, 1450 AM and www.WPGTalkRadio.com.
Admission is free and so is the parking, which will be provided at Boardwalk Hall. You are encouraged to register in advance online at acchamber.com or call 609-345-4524, extension 102.
Kennedy Plaza is located on the Atlantic City Boardwalk between Mississippi and Florida avenues. The entrance to the Boardwalk Hall parking garage is at Mississippi Avenue.
No one should assume that the vote to defeat this question is a certainty. First, many people may not be familiar with the scope of a ballot question. Many will actually see it for the first time in the voting booth. There's always a predisposition to vote yes. Ballot questions are worded this way on purpose, because it helps lead to passage of the measure.
Since the pro North Jersey casino forces abandoned their multi-million dollar marketing campaign, many have taken the result of this ballot question for granted.
Another false notion circulating is that proponents of bringing casinos to North Jersey simply folded like a cheap suit. In fact, they spent more than $8.5 million prior to disbanding their marketing efforts.
The campaign to defeat the ballot question has spent $11 million through September, 2016.
This is all the more reason why public awareness is essential. If two casinos are permitted to open in North Jersey, it will be devastating to our marketplace and the entire state.
Defeating this question is imperative. The margin of victory is also important. If the vote is close, the proponents will come back in two years and start this mess all over again. A blowout victory can effectively discourage any efforts to revisit this issue anytime soon.
What Atlantic City needs the most right now is stability. A lot of potential investment money is parked on the sidelines waiting to see how this ballot question goes.
Also, the smart money is waiting to see exactly what a state takeover of Atlantic City looks like and how friendly the investment climate will be.
Vital information will be shared at the upcoming rally so that businesses, employees and the public will be armed with facts to help their fellow citizens make their decision to vote no on question No. 1.
With the recent closing of The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Atlantic City now has seven casinos (down from 12 since 2014). Atlantic City now has 14,458 hotel rooms. In February, 1,399 more rooms will open at Ten (formerly Revel). Even more hotel rooms will come online with Bart Blatstein's former Showboat Hotel and Casino.
This will take Atlantic City's number of hotel rooms to beyond 17,000. By comparison, Philadelphia has 11,000 rooms. This gives the resort a big competitive advantage when MEET AC is marketing Atlantic City throughout the country as a host city for large events.
The closing of two or three more casinos in Atlantic City would undoubtedly hurt MEET AC's efforts to attract conventions and trade shows. It would also cost thousands of local jobs and result in the loss of thousands of square feet of meeting room space.
Here are some of the key players who have delivered outstanding leadership to date: New Jersey Assemblyman Chris Brown; Resorts Atlantic City Casino Hotel owner Morris Bailey and President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Giannantonio; No North Jersey Casinos Coalition Chairwoman Debra DiLorenzo; Joe Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, Bill Cortese and UNITE-HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt.
As you decide how you can help with the "vote no" effort, proceed like your life depends on it, because it does.