Parties maintain strongholds on 3 freeholder boards

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Sy Altman exits the booth after casting his ballot at the Deptford Recreational Center.

The GOP gained exclusivity over the Burlington County Freeholder Board - which it has controlled for nearly four decades - when Republican newcomers knocked out two Democratic incumbents in Tuesday's race.

Republican Kate Gibbs, a union administrator, and her running mate, Ryan Peters, a lawyer and Navy SEAL, captured seats on the five-member board, upsetting Aimee Belgard and Joanne Schwartz.

The defeat ruined the Democrats' hope that they could win a third seat next year and seize control of the board when a presidential race is expected to bring a heavy Democratic turnout in New Jersey.

In Camden and Gloucester Counties, however, the Democrats who kept their longtime grip on the freeholder boards, as incumbent and newcomer candidates were elected handily.

In Camden County, Democratic Freeholder Jeffrey L. Nash won reelection over Republican Winston Extavour, while newcomers Susan Shin Angulo - a Cherry Hill councilwoman - and William F. Moen Jr. became the newest members of the seven-member board. They bested Republican newcomers Ian Gill and Rob Stone. Also elected to the board was Democrat Jonathan L. Young, who was nominated this year to replace outgoing Freeholder Scot McCray. He won an unexpired two-year term over Republican Theodore M. Liddell.

Outgoing Democratic Assemblyman Gilbert L. "Whip" Wilson won a bid for Camden County sheriff over Republican Lou Hannon, while outgoing Freeholder Michelle Gentek, also a Democrat, was elected surrogate over Republican Joseph Rodi Jr.

In Gloucester County, three incumbents - Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger, Giuseppe "Joe" Chila, and Jim Jefferson - were reelected to the all-Democratic, seven-member governing board.

Damminger and Chila were challenged by Republicans Jack Scheidell and Samuel B. Miles III. Jefferson, who was named a freeholder early this year when former Freeholder Adam Taliaferro took a seat in the Assembly, had faced Republican Nicholas Fazzio, a Washington Township councilman, in the race for an unexpired two-year term.

Gloucester County Sheriff Carmel Morina also was reelected, defeating challenger Joseph J. Micucci Jr.

In Burlington, the GOP had invested heavily in the race, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV attack ads and campaign literature to persuade voters to replace the incumbent Democrats.

Belgard, a lawyer from Edgewater Park who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year against Tom MacArthur, and her running mate, Schwartz, a semiretired health-care administrator from Southampton, had won seats on the freeholder board three years ago, when President Obama was at the top of the ballot.

Gibbs, a former executive director of the county Republican Committee from Lumberton, and Peters, a Hainesport resident, ran on a platform calling for voters to oust incumbents and choose fresh faces with fresh ideas.

Belgard and Schwartz had touted a record of voting to keep taxes stable and their ability to compromise and work with the Republican majority.

jhefler@phillynews.com

856-779-3224 @JanHefler

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