Democratic Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. and Freeholder Riletta L. Cream easily defeated two primary challengers yesterday - and will face the top Republican vote-getters, Alice J. Wood and Mary I. Cortes, in the general election.
Cappelli and Cream had touted the freeholder board's success in reducing property taxes. The freeholder director last night also credited "our record of reducing spending while maintaining the standard of services we provide.
"I feel confident about November," said Cappelli, 45, a lawyer who lives in Collingswood. "We will keep pushing hard to keep fiscally responsible."
The property-tax decrease was "an extraordinary triumph during this economic climate," said Cream, in an earlier statement released through a staff member. She declined to be interviewed.
A Camden native, Cream, 81, of Berlin, served as a teacher and elementary school principal until her appointment as principal of Camden High School in 1972. She retired in 1987 but continued as adjunct professor at Rowan and Rutgers Universities and was appointed to the Board of Freeholders in 1994.
She and Cappelli defeated Mark A. Stettler, 41, a professional engineer who lives in Audubon, and Mark E. Owens, 39, a sales and marketing representative for a pharmaceutical firm who also lives in Audubon.
On the Republican side, Wood and Cortes won handily over Jammes J. Valencia.
Wood, a retired marketing education instructor at the school of business at the Camden County Technical Schools in Sicklerville, said she will work to reduce or hold the line on property taxes.
"Everybody agrees with that but how do you get them lower?" said Wood last night. "You get them lower by cutting your expenses. There is a lot of fat in government."
Residents of Lawnside, where Wood operates a group home for senior citizens, saw their taxes increase under the 2008 county budget.
"I'm going after the incumbents, especially Ms. Cream," Wood, 60, of Cherry Hill. "It's time for her to step down."
During the campaign, Wood's running mate, Cortes, said she hoped to curb county spending.
"People are fed up and now they're looking outside of the box," said the 52-year-old Camden woman last night. "Time is passing us by and we're not progressing."
Cortes said she would encourage the creation of "pocket factories" in refurbished buildings in the towns.
"I would love to do that," said Cortes, a community activist who owns a Camden luncheonette and teaches high school dropouts as part of a program at a church. "I want to create jobs."