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Nonpartisan elections set for Tuesday

Battlegrounds are Haddon Twp., Camden, Evesham and Mount Ephraim. And parties do have a stake.

In Haddon Township and Evesham, campaign signs are as visible as blooming dogwoods and tulips. In the early evening, candidates walk door to door, trying to persuade voters to support them in Tuesday's nonpartisan elections.

Thirteen candidates are vying for three township commission seats in Haddon Township, where redevelopment of a defunct diaper laundry and the landmark Westmont Theater are the central issues.

In Evesham, seven residents are fighting for three seats. Four-term Mayor Augustus "Gus" Tamburro and two running mates on the Township Council are defending their jobs against a team promising to cut taxes. The central issue: control of the government.

There also are races in Camden and Mount Ephraim.

Although the races are nonpartisan, party organizations are taking sides in some. The Burlington County GOP, for example, is supporting the Tamburro ticket in Evesham.

Camden County Democrats are supporting the "Empowering People, Building Neighborhoods" slate in Camden. They also support Mount Ephraim Mayor Michael Reader's slate.

Democrats have a tight grip on public offices in Camden and Gloucester Counties and have expanded into traditionally Republican South Jersey counties.

Haddon Twp. development

Haddon Township's political floodgates opened when Mayor Bill Park and Commissioner Kathy Hogan decided not to seek reelection. Their public bickering has made commission meetings the best show in town and spawned lawsuits over such matters as door shutting and elbowing in the ribs.

All but one slate of Haddon Township candidates say a redevelopment agreement on the Dy-Dee diaper laundry site on Haddon Avenue must be honored, even though the developer can take properties by eminent domain to complete a condominium and retail project.

Those slates argue that tossing the developer would tie up the township in costly litigation for years, postponing much-needed redevelopment of Haddon Avenue.

However, the "People United for Haddon Township" slate - led by Charles DiPietropolo, a former commissioner and former school board member - says it can throw out the agreement and get a new developer without requiring any township revenue to make the deal work.

Residents can watch a forum among the slates on local-cable Channel 19 at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Budget debate in Evesham

In Evesham, the "Evesham's Future" slate, led by title company owner Randy Brown, says that taxes and spending are too high and that, if elected, it would devise a plan for cuts.

Tamburro is running on his record of acquiring 3,000 acres of open space since the 1990s and the township's fiscal health.

Brown contended that Tamburro "has become fiscally irresponsible," but, when pressed for examples, said: "I don't have specific examples that I want to put out there publicly."

Although Evesham has a small-town feel, its 47,000 residents make it the biggest municipality in Burlington County and part of a larger political plan. If Brown's team of Democrats wins, the party will control the longtime GOP stronghold and gain a foothold in challenging Republican control of the county courthouse offices. Republicans hold both state Senate seats in the county, but three of the four Assembly members are Democrats.

In Camden, City Councilmen William Spearman, Francisco "Frank" Moran and Angel Fuentes are defending their seats against Brian Coleman, Euliss Delgado and Carmen Ubarry-Rivera, respectively. Vance Bowman and Dana Burley are seeking the open Ward 1 seat.

In Mount Ephraim, the mayor and Commissioner Suzanne Gaglianone are running to remain on the three-seat Borough Commission, with Chuck Mihalik as their running mate. Opposing them are Joseph Wolk, Bruce Greenwald and Andrew Gilmore.

Polls in all towns will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.