By Jan Hefler

The party-endorsed candidate in the Democratic primary race for mayor of Washington Township, Gloucester County's largest municipality, easily defeated a newcomer who ran on a clean-government platform.

Matt Lyons, a former council president who campaigned on a promise that he would work hard to keep taxes down, will vie for mayor in the fall against Republican Theresa Lappe.

Lappe ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Lyons, 42, beat Josh Aronovitch, 30, who last year launched a petition drive that brought a tougher pay-to-play ordinance to the town.

"It's been a hard-fought campaign, and we got our message out," said Lyons, a lawyer with the Gloucester County legal department. He attributed his win to "hard work and a good ticket." Lyons served eight years on council, deciding against seeking reelection in 2006.

Lyons says he wants to return to township government because he is concerned about longtime residents who are struggling with tax bills. He has promised to "run a fine-tooth comb through every expenditure."

Aronovitch wished Lyons luck in the general election.

"We ran a good race, and I am grateful for everyone who voted for us," said Aronovitch, an attorney with Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia. "In any campaign, there's a lot of reasons why we may have not won and we'll look into them and hopefully learn from them."

Lyons' running mates, Ray MacDowell and Scott Newman, party-backed candidates for township council, also won the Democratic Party nod. They narrowly defeated Democratic candidates Trish Pisauro and Lisa Passero.

Incumbent Township Councilwoman Anita LaPierre came in last in the council race.

"I had four great years, and I was able to give back to the town," she said.

She occasionally had been a lone dissenter on the Democrat-controlled council, voting against ordinances and budgets she felt were irresponsible. She was left without a slate when her two running mates decided to quit the race.

The Republican council candidates in the fall will be Joseph Bowe and Nicodemo Fiorentino.

Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com.