Voters brought change to both the Atlantic City and New Jersey governments in Tuesday's election.
Atlantic City Mayor Donald Guardian was defeated by two-term Democratic City Councilman Frank Gilliam Tuesday, putting a new man in charge of the cash-strapped gambling hub that has been under state intervention since last November.
Guardian was elected as the city’s first Republican mayor in 2013 and has sought to bring more business diversity to the struggling gambling hub, which nearly defaulted on its debt last year.
“This is the beginning of a new era in Atlantic City,” Gilliam told reporters after his win. “For the past 30-40 years Atlantic City has been taking the back seat and now it is time for us to actually take the front seat.”
The state intervention has at times put the city and state governments at odds, and change is coming to the state government as well.
Termed out Republican Chris Christie will be gone, and his replacement will be a Democrat, Phil Murphy, who easily defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno with 55% support. Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs executive, has proposed instituting a millionaire’s tax if elected. He has also called for boosting pension funding and wants the state to divest from private equity and hedge funds to help increase investment returns.
S&P Global Ratings analyst David Hitchcock noted in a report Wednesday morning that the new governor, who will have the support of a Democratic-controlled legislature, faces enormous fiscal challenges due to decades of poor budgetary decisions. Hitchcock said pension-funding shortfalls under both Republican and Democratic administrations the last 20 years have left the state with a heavy pension liability shortfall along with high debt and consistent structural budget deficits.
“These impediments will likely constrain the state's ability to increase funding for local aid or avoid deficits during an economic downturn, regardless of any near-term tax increases or spending cuts,” said Hitchcock. “The magnitude of the credit risks facing Governor-Elect Phil Murphy and the newly elected legislature means the state's long-term credit conditions will remain challenging for the foreseeable future, no matter what policy direction they choose,” said Hitchcock.
New Jersey voters also approved Tuesday a referendum authorizing the issuance of $125 million of general obligation bonds for public libraries.
In New York State, voters soundly rejected a referendum that would have authorized a constitutional convention. A convention would have put many issues up for grab, including policies that impact public finance such as state borrowing limits and providing more revenue-generating capabilities for municipalities.
Election day brought change to two of New York's large suburban municipalities.
Two-term Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who proposed a privatization of the county’s airport, lost to Democratic State Sen. George Latimer. On nearby Long Island, the Town of Hempstead, which is America's largest township, elected its first Democrat as supervisor with Laura Gillen knocking off Republican incumbent Anthony Santino.
The Nassau County Executive's office also changed party hands, with Democrat Laura Curran claiming the seat being vacated by the GOP's Ed Mangano.
A bond referendum in Maine for $105 million of transportation projects was approved.
Maine voters passed a referendum seeking a constitutional amendment to reduce volatility in the state’s pension funding requirements with 63% of the vote. The measure asked to increase the length of time for which experience losses are amortized from 10 to 20 years to be more in line with “pension industry standards.”
Another ballot measure in the Pine Tree State seeking an expansion of Medicaid funding passed with 59% support. Maine Gov. Paul LePage blasted the proposal’s passage saying after its passage that the last time the state expanded Medicaid in 2002 it created $750 million in debt to hospitals.
“Credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine’s budget,” said LePage in a statement.
Philadelphia elected Democrat Rebecca Rhynhart as its next city controller. Rhynhart, a former chief administrative officer under Mayor Jim Kenney, defeated incumbent Alan Butkovitz in a Democratic primary and ran on a campaign of bringing more transparency to the office.