Chris Filiciello, the Chief of Staff in Atlantic City under Mayor Don Guardian, can trace his interest in politics back to one recognizable date — Sept. 11, 2001.
“I spent my freshman year of college at St. Peters College in Jersey City. Then I transferred after my freshman year to the University of Kentucky — that was in August of 2001. About a month later is when 9/11 happened,” Filiciello recalls. “I remember my roommate woke me up, and I remember seeing on TV the planes hit the World Trade Center, and in the background was Jersey City. I thought about my friends and everybody that was back east, and for me it really connected what world affairs has to do with everyday life, and how the government and the president and our military would respond to a terrorist attack. I really started to get interested in world affairs after that.”
After graduating with a degree in integrated strategic communications, Filiciello got to work as a College Republican National Committee Field Representative in eastern Pennsylvania. The year was 2004 and his candidate was President George W. Bush.
Working hand-in-hand with the Bush campaign mobilizing college Republicans, he later got a job in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Labor. He was just 23 at the time.
Armed with a resume stacked with experience, Filiciello, who grew up in Little Egg Harbor, eventually made his way back home to Jersey to become the Chief of Staff for Mayor Guardian.
“A lot of my responsibility is keeping an eye on the mayor’s calendar. How he spends his time, who he talks to, which events he goes to, what he says, the messaging. I work as a liaison between constituents to figure out problems,” Filiciello says of his day-to-day schedule.
In working with department heads, juggling Guardian’s schedule and dealing with the “layers of bureaucracy” that go along with Atlantic City’s state oversight, which Filiciello says is the most challenging aspect of his job, being right-hand-man to the mayor of America’s Playground has linked Filiciello to a legacy greater than himself. What began as a response to one of the worst American tragedies ever to occur has lead to a full-circle career path, connecting Filiciello to his home and his past.
“I think being part of the history of A.C. is the most rewarding thing about my job,” he says. “Growing up I lived in Little Egg Harbor, but my dad has worked for the casinos for over 25 years. I remember as a little kid, waiting for him to come home from the casinos. There used to be a shuttle from my town to A.C. I was very thankful that his job at the casino helped put me and my sister through school. To come back as an adult, to be able to give back to the town that helped me develop is very rewarding.”