Moran coasts to victory in Camden's mayoral race

Francisco “Frank” Moran, a longtime Camden councilman and lifelong city resident, won by a wide margin Tuesday in the city’s Democratic mayoral primary election.

With 88 percent of the city’s wards reporting, Moran, 48, was leading with 74 percent of votes cast, according to unofficial results reported by Camden County. The win means Moran, who faces no Republican opponent in this fall’s election, is likely to be the city’s next mayor.

Moran had the endorsement of Mayor Dana Redd, who announced earlier this year that she would not seek a third term. He also had the backing of South Jersey’s Democratic network, which made it an uphill climb for his opponents.

Moran faced challengers Theo Spencer, 41, a Camden-raised web consultant, and Raymond Lamboy, 48, a Camden business leader and activist.

Moran, who is City Council president, ran on the accomplishments he and Redd have been touting in recent months: growing commercial development in the city that comes courtesy of state business tax incentives, a state takeover of the district’s struggling schools, and a county police force created in 2013 following the disbanding of the city’s longtime department.

Lamboy and Spencer campaigned against that record, arguing that Moran has, over the years, put political gains ahead of the best interests of the city’s residents.

General elections in the heavily Democratic city of 77,000 are often seen as mere formalities, and the primaries often have voter turnout below 20 percent. Fewer than 2,000 people voted for Redd for mayor in the 2009 primary, with just over 7,100 people voting for her in the general election.

For decades, Camden has been among the poorest, most crime-ridden municipalities in the state. With a budget largely dependent on state aid, the city’s mayor holds sway over millions of public dollars that go toward paying the city’s bills.

First elected to council in 1997, Moran has since held a number of city and county government positions, including his current role as director of the Camden County Parks Department. Moran has said he would resign from that job if elected mayor.

Along with Moran, incumbent council members Angel Fuentes and Curtis Jenkins were reelected with 27 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively. Longtime community activist Sheila Davis was elected to her first term on City Council, earning 25 percent of votes cast.