NEW JERSEY (WTXF/AP) - Jim Whelan, a Democratic New Jersey state senator and former mayor of Atlantic City who worked to help revitalize the struggling seaside resort, has died. He was 68.
Whelan's death was announced on his Facebook page Tuesday night. A cause of death was not disclosed.
On July 11, Whelan underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his kidney. He was later readmitted to the hospital for complications from blood thinners he was prescribed.
Whelan served three terms as mayor of Atlantic City before losing a re-election bid in 2001. He won a state Assembly seat in 2005 before being elected to the state Senate two years later.
He represented the 2nd Legislative District, which includes Atlantic City and several other communities in Atlantic County.
In January, Whelan announced that he would not be seeking re-election.
Governor Chris Christie released the following statement on the passing of State Senator Jim Whelan:
"The sudden and unexpected passing of Senator Jim Whelan is an enormous loss to the people of Atlantic City, his district and all of the State of New Jersey. During my nearly eight years in Trenton, I came to know Jim as a forthright and honest leader who's word was his bond. While we did not always agree on policy, he was always willing to listen and reason together. The current comeback of Atlantic City is due in no small part to the efforts and passion of Jim Whelan. Mary Pat and I extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the entire Whelan family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."
Senate President Steve Sweeney issued the following statement on the passing of state Senator Jim Whelan:
“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Senator Jim Whelan. Jim was a true friend, a confidant and champion for the people of South Jersey and the entire state. He gave so much of his life to public service, serving as a teacher, a councilman, as mayor, and for more than a decade in the Legislature fighting for policies to help improve the lives of the residents of the state. He was a man of integrity and honor, and he was a friend to all of us.
“Jim was rarely one to raise his voice, but was a dogged advocate for Atlantic City, a city he loved dearly, and was determined to see it thrive. He was the author of many of the initiatives that have helped to revitalize Atlantic City and will be remembered for that work for generations to come. He will be missed dearly by all of us who knew him, but his loss will also be felt by the entire state.
“I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Kathy, their son Richard, and his entire family during this incredibly difficult time.”