South Jersey voters returned Democratic incumbents to the state Assembly in the Fifth and Sixth Districts and Democrats swept the Camden County ballots.
By Matt Skoufalos
Although voters will have to wait for the results to be certified, the story of the 2015 general elections in Camden County is largely that of a Democratic sweep.
Traditional Republican stronghold Haddon Heights voted along party lines to oust the lone Democrat from its borough council and appoint another Republican mayor, but the locality was an outlier on an overwhelmingly blue Tuesday, as voters delivered the statehouse to the Democrats a year in advance of the 2016 national elections.
Some 67,000 residents (about 20 percent of 336,578 registered voters) participated in the elections according to unofficial totals from Camden County.
In the Sixth Legislative District (Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Oaklyn), incumbent Democrats Louis Greenwald (19,670 votes) and Pamela Lampitt (18,684 votes) trounced their rivals in the race for state assembly, more than doubling the totals for Republican challengers Holly Tate (10,195 votes) and Claire H. Gustafson (9,888 votes).
Green Party candidates James Bracciante (800 votes) and Amanda Davis (923) made the ballot, but barely registered as a blip in comparison.
In the Fifth Legislative District (Audubon, Audubon Park, Haddon Heights), incumbent Democratic State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez pulled in 10,924 votes in an uncontested race for her unexpired term, while her fellow party members Patricia Egan Jones (9,976 votes) and Arthur Barclay (9,346) essentially tripled the tallies of Republican hopefuls Kevin Ehret (3,498 votes) and Keith Walker (3,924 votes).
Democrats also swept the three Camden County Freeholder Board races, as incumbent freeholder Jeffrey Nash (39,291 votes), Cherry Hill councilwoman Susan Shin Angulo (37,182 votes) and 28-year-old William F. Moen, Jr. (36,526 votes) beat out their Republican counterparts Winston Extavour (20,360 votes), Ian Gill (21,853 votes), and Rob Stone (22,080 votes).
Egan Jones was succeeded in her role as Camden County Surrogate by outgoing Democratic Camden County Freeholder Michelle Gentek-Mayer (37,680 votes), who beat out Republican Joseph Rodi, Jr. (21,776 votes) for that office.
With 23, 147 votes, retired Camden City police lieutenant Lou Hannon (R) couldn’t get past outgoing Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (37,634 votes) for the office of county sheriff.
The results of the Audubon Board of Education race have been confirmed.
Joseph L. Ryan, Jr. (783 votes) retained his unexpired seat on the board. He will be joined by incumbent Allison Cox (639 votes), challenger James Blumenstein (449 votes) and incumbent Gina Osinski (429 votes).
Challenger Pamela Chiaradia (419 votes), incumbent Tara Sullivan-Butrica (413 votes), and challenger William Liebeknecht (385 votes) fell short of the final seat.
Initial results from the Camden County Board of Elections had indicated mistakenly that a ninth Audubon voting district had yet to submit returns Tuesday night; there are only eight voting districts in the borough.
With nearly 98 percent of the vote returned, Cahn took home 8,053 votes versus 3,050 mustered by Philip Guerreri, Sr., and Bauerle, Kane, and Lipsett essentially doubled the total ballots cast for Republicans Stephen Cohen, Nancy O’Dowd, and Rick Short.
Voters also returned incumbents Kathryn Bay Judge (5,643 votes) and Barry Dickinson (5,337 votes) to the local board of education; with nearly 98 percent of the votes returned, challenger Ken Tomlinson, Jr. (4,801 votes) seemed to have edged out Frederick Dande (4,530 votes) for the final seat on the board. Incumbent Jane Scarpellino received 6,969 votes in an uncontested race for her unexpired term.
In Collingswood, residents re-elected Board of Education incumbents James Hatzell (1,120 votes) and Kathleen McCarthy (1,095 votes).
Newcomer Regan Kaiden (1,114 votes) was the second-highest vote-getter, unseating incumbent Terry Moody (990 votes) and outpacing fellow challenger Nancy DiBattista (555 votes).
Incumbent Haddon Heights Councilman Jack D. Merryfield, Jr. (884 votes) will serve as the new borough mayor, outlasting a push from Democratic challenger David A. Capozzi (611 votes).
“I think the outcome was indicative of a truly well-run campaign,” said Haddon Heights Councilman Earl Miller on behalf of Merryfield. “[He] knows the town, knows the players, knows what we want to do for the town.”
Republicans also swept the open seats on the partisan Haddon Heights borough council, with Jacquelyn Valvardi (816 votes) the top vote-getter and Vincent M. Ceroli (771 votes) eking out incumbent Democrat Stephen Berryhill (768 votes) by three votes. Democrat Arykah Trabosh earned 609 votes.
Miller was also complementary of the outgoing Berryhill, whom he described as “a true class act and a public servant that I would like to replicate myself after.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Miller said.
The councilman was short on comment about his party’s platform moving forward except to say that he hoped his financial strategies would be able to help Haddon Heights continue to “right the ship” within the next two years while keeping taxes flat.
As to the biggest economic question in Haddon Heights–namely, the awarding of liquor licenses within the borough–Miller the incoming council would likely be asked to confront the issue.
“That will certainly be a topic of conversation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Haddon Heights Board of Education race, which last year was a crowded affair, was uncontested in 2015. Trish Sheilds (1,006 votes) was the top vote-getter, edging out Tina Gentile (946 votes) and Kimberly Stuart (939), all of whom ran unopposed.
In the Haddonfield Board of Education race, incumbent Susan Kutner claimed top spot among vote-getters (976 votes).
She will be joined on the board by newcomers Adam Sangillo (928 votes) and Joshua Drew (773 votes).
Hopefuls Glenn R. George (613 votes) and Joseph Evangelisti (609 votes) rounded out the results.
The big winner among Haddon Township Board of Education candidates was incumbent James R. Lex, Jr. (1,360 votes) who, along with incumbent Robert D. Brown (1,058 votes), retained his spot on the body.
Newcomer Allison Rodman (1,067 votes) took second place in the contest, and Craig Roncace (1,560 votes) retained his unexpired seat in an uncontested race.
Challengers Marie Dezii (1,046 votes) and Renee Billingsley (1,000 votes) were only a few votes off the pace.
Incumbent Oaklyn Mayor Robert Forbes (431 votes) and Councilmen Gregory Brandley (436 votes) and Michael Enos (434 votes) all ran unopposed.
The only Oaklyn Board of Education candidate to appear on the ballot was Matthew H. Hale (272 votes), who ran uncontested for an unexpired term.
Krista Egan (110 votes), Robert Skowrownek (84 votes) and Gene Ferguson (5 votes) were the top write-in candidates.
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