Vacancy on Haddonfield Commission Won’t be Filled Until November Election


Commissioners Colleen Bianco Bezich and Frank Troy will not appoint a replacement for Kevin Roche, who moved out of the borough. Nominees for Roche’s unexpired term must file petitions by August 22.

By Matt Skoufalos | June 25, 2024

File photo: Haddonfield Commissioners (from left) Kevin Roche, Frank Troy, and Colleen Bianco Bezich in August 2023. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The three-commissioner Haddonfield municipal government will operate with an unfilled vacancy until the November 4 general election.

In late May, Commissioner Kevin Roche resigned his position on the governing body because he’d moved to Washington, D.C.

Although Roche had retained a Haddonfield address for the purposes of completing his elected term, he said he didn’t want to become “a story” that detracts from the work of his colleagues.

“I think it became an issue just because of the politicization of a non-partisan thing,” Roche told NJ Pen at the time.

Roche’s fellow commissioners Colleen Bianco Bezich and Frank Troy could name a replacement for his post by June 29, but have chosen not to do so.

At the Monday meeting of the Haddonfield borough government, Bianco Bezich and Troy announced that they prefer instead to allow any potential candidate to seek the office through traditional means.

Bianco Bezich said that she and Troy had discussed the matter for the first time in closed session at their June 3 work session, and came to the same conclusion for a few reasons.


Foremost among them was the limited (30-day) window in which they would have had to interview potential candidates for the job. A close second was the worry that any new commissioner wouldn’t have enough time to get up to speed on the process of governance before the next election.

According to timelines established by New Jersey Title 40A, any appointee would still have been obligated to defend their unexpired term in a November special election (which coincides with the general election), and then again in the spring of 2025, when Haddonfield holds its municipal elections, if they chose to pursue a full term in office.

From left: Haddonfield Commissioners Frank Troy, Colleen Bianco Bezich, Kevin Roche in May 2024. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“This isn’t a situation like in 2019, when Commissioner [John]  Moscatelli gave advance indication of his intent to resign,” Bianco Bezich said.

“Any time you appoint a commissioner, there’s a learning curve.”

Secondly, both commissioners argued that anyone willing to do the work of an elected official ought to submit to the same petitioning, campaigning, and electoral process through which they won their seats.

When Moscatelli retired in July 2019, Bianco Bezich and Troy both expressed interest in replacing him on the commission; instead, the commissioners appointed Robert Marshall. Four months later, Bianco Bezich defeated Marshall in the special election for Moscatelli’s unexpired term.

Furthermore, the commissioners agreed that local political discourse in the borough has deteriorated to a point where any appointee would be second-guessed by one segment of the community or another.

“I’m sure whatever decision Commissioner Troy and I make it will be criticized,” Bianco Bezich said.

“The environs in which we find ourselves, and the level of vitriol, the rumors, and misinformation, and speculation have turned so toxic that it’s hard for Commissioner Troy and I to have trust in anyone or have faith in the intentions of anyone who would seek the position,” she said.

“This is a representative democracy,” Bianco Bezich continued. “If people want a seat at the table, the way to do that is to run for office. Frank said, ‘Anyone who wants to sit up here should do what we did: run a campaign,’ and I don’t disagree with that.”

Troy said he believes that he and Bianco Bezich can manage the agenda items the governing body will review in the four months to follow, and that they will be able to work with the third candidate who emerges thereafter until the spring 2025 municipal election.

“Between now and November, a lot of the things that we have to vote on are plain-Jane, often 3-and-0 votes that have to do with a budget adjustment, a change to an ordinance in town, or something that pops up,” Troy said. “I think in most of those cases, a 2-0 vote would suffice.”

From left: Michael Pasquarello of R&S Boxwood Hospitality, Haddonfield Commissioners Frank Troy and Colleen Bianco Bezich at Boxwood Hall in Haddonfield, May 2024. Credit: Matt Skoufalos

Troy said he’d rather see a third, democratically elected commissioner join the governing body to collaborate on larger issues, like finalizing a plan for the redevelopment of the Bancroft parcel.

The commissioner split from Bianco Bezich and Roche when the governing body voted to award the conditional redevelopment agreement for Bancroft to Woodmont Properties in May.

“The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of noise out there regarding the future of Bancroft and things like that,” Troy said.

“I don’t think that we could find a former commissioner in town that could gain the approval of both commissioners, and if you’ve never done this role in the past, it takes you more than three months just to figure out how local government works,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to have someone who is appointed to vote on behalf of  [Bancroft], and I think there would be a lot of people in town who would say that person isn’t a true commissioner if they didn’t run for office,” he continued.

“If people are that concerned about the position, and that passionate about it, get your stuff together, run a campaign, go door to door, meet a lot of people, and reach out on what your value proposition is,” Troy said.

Bianco Bezich, Roche, and Troy each ran on competing platforms for the Bancroft parcel, campaigning for open space, rental units, and homes for sale, respectively; yet the commissioners all describe their working relationship as eminently collegial for their differences of opinion.

“We never struggled to respectfully disagree and reach a consensus,” Bianco Bezich said.

“For the most part, we’re pretty consistent,” Troy said.

Candidate information for the Haddonfield municipal government is posted on the borough website. Nominating petitions are due by 4 p.m. August 22.

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