Morgan Robinson, an 18-year borough resident, is running for office in her first municipal election alongside incumbents Jim Maley and Rob Lewandowski.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 7, 2021
Just a few weeks after announcing that their long-serving fellow commissioner, Joan Leonard, would not be seeking re-election to local office, incumbent Collingswood borough commissioners Jim Maley and Rob Lewandowski have named a third candidate to their campaign.
Joining them on the Team Collingswood slate will be Morgan Robinson, an 18-year borough resident known best in the community as the owner of Frugal, a thrift and vintage clothing store she operated on Haddon Avenue for a decade.
Robinson, a mother of three, is an editorial production manager who works in medical publishing. Locally, she’s volunteered with the Collingswood Green Festival, Collingswood PRIDE Night Out, and with the Tatem Elementary School library. While operating Frugal, Robinson also directed nearly $20,000 in charitable donations to various causes through in-store give-backs.
Running a small business on Haddon Avenue offered a connection to the community that was “priceless,” Robinson said; in the six months since its closure, she realized how much she missed being in the thick of things downtown.
“There’s a contentedness that comes with that that I never realized until I spent some time without it,” she said. “I would see everyone and I would come home from that so much happier.
“Business ownership gives you a real, nuts-and-bolts perspective that not everybody gets to have,” Robinson said. “Looking out that fishbowl window for ten years, you see some stuff. And to hear what people from out of town say when they come into town, you dig in a little more to what people think.
“There’s so much been offered to me that why would I not try to offer back?”
Robinson said she wants to serve in local government to help shepherd the town through its recovery from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
She hopes that adding her perspective to those of the incumbent officials will support their leadership with new ideas.
“The reasons why I moved here were a result of the hard work by Team Collingswood,” Robinson said.
“Eighteen years ago, things were already in full swing when we moved here,” she said.
“That’s why we moved here: we were specifically shopping for a community for my biracial family.
“I don’t expect [the recovery] to be easy,” Robinson said. “We’re coming off of some rough stuff. But things worth doing aren’t easy. I wouldn’t ever consider doing this if I wasn’t on their team.”
Maley said that Robinson distinguished herself among a number of qualified candidates by her distinct individual perspective as well as her warm temperament.
“What struck me is she is such a nice person, and that’s a great place to start,” he said. “We’re excited to have her running with us. We think she presents a very different viewpoint, which has always been the goal.”
Maley said Robinson’s experience as a local business owner is another mark in her favor, but just as much is her personal connection to the community.
“For Morgan, her family is acutely aware of all the issues that have been going on,” the mayor said. “Her kids are in the schools, she’s been a business owner; she gets that perspective for us that’s going to be critical, and she’s a new viewpoint.”
Lewandowski described Robinson as “another chapter of the Collingswood story: good people stepping up to do good things; people who put creating things over criticizing, and cooperation over constant conflict.
“One thing that will make Morgan a great commissioner is that she is trustworthy, and that really matters in local government,” Lewandowski said.
“She is smart enough and confident enough in her abilities that she doesn’t feel the need to lie to you, deceive you, or pretend she has all the answers.
“Morgan Robinson isn’t just right for our town, she is right for our times,” he said.
Maley said local recovery from the pandemic should be the “A-number-one” priority for the next administration in the borough, and cited it as the main reason he’s seeking re-election.
“Everything else is a distant second,” he said. “We’re dealing with businesses that are on the brink. We’re dealing with families that have got financial stresses; the stresses of dealing with schools.
“Everybody has been going through a very difficult time,” Maley said.
“How do we get the whole community through this safely, and then, how do we rebuild it all?
“I just can’t walk away with where we’re at. We’ve got to get back on stable feet.”
“None of this Collingswood story begins or ends with the commissioners,” Lewandowski added.
“If we are to continue to grow and flourish as a community, we need the involvement of new people with new ideas, and a willingness to put ego aside, roll up one’s sleeves and get to work.
“That’s how we built the region’s top farmers market, an affordable and accessible bike share program, fun programming, and events of every kind,” he said: “committed citizens found a welcoming government who provides the resources needed to make great things happen.
“Our town is small enough that a single person or small group of people can make a huge difference, and we see that investment in people pay dividends time and again,” Lewandowski said.
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