The Camden County Democratic establishment withstood minor primary challenges yesterday and moved its three freeholder candidates and its Camden mayoral candidate, State Sen. Dana Redd, on to the general election.
Redd, who is also vice president of the Camden City Council, won 86 percent of the vote against two challengers who had neither money nor name recognition - Elton Custis, a 27-year-old substance-abuse counselor, and Eulisis Delgado, a 56-year-old PATCO worker.
Redd, 41, struck a chord of unity last night, declaring the city's Democratic infighting over. Her slate for City Council - Marilyn Torres and incumbents Gilbert "Whip" Wilson and Curtis Jenkins - also won by wide margins.
"The residents that we've been meeting with and speaking with are really excited to see us come together," Redd said. "We're not taking anything for granted. We're looking at this as a competitive race."
Redd does not have Republican opposition, but will face three independent candidates: Mujiba Salaam Parker, who until 2008 worked for the state distributing money to Camden; Angel Cordero, an activist-educator; and Roberto Feliz, a former city official.
Cordero is running with a slate of three council candidates - Arthur Barclay, Preston Brown, and Isaias Martinez - while Feliz is teamed with Clyde Cook.
One Redd voter, Angela Rickerd, said yesterday at a polling station in Fairview that she hoped the next mayor would bring businesses to the city and improve schools, "so our kids could receive the same things that kids across the street get."
Her husband, Tom, who was laid off from Citibank in the fall, said Camden does not function as a self-sustaining community. Businesses disappear, he said, and the remaining jobs go to nonresidents.
In the county freeholder race, the three Democratic winners were incumbents Jeffrey Nash and Rodney Greco and first-time candidate Ian Leonard, all supported by the party. Leonard is chief-of-staff for Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, who also won his primary.
"The trick in government is to cut taxes and still provide services that the residents need, and that is something the Camden County freeholder board has accomplished," Nash said.
The winning candidates defeated Janice Leonetti, who did little campaigning and said she agreed with the freeholders' ideas.
The Republican freeholder primary was far more competitive, with Anthony Casa, Carl Canfield, and Nick Kush defeating two candidates who ran on the slate of gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan. The GOP has not been on the board since the early 1990s, and Kush has acknowledged that he has little chance in the fall.
Two independent candidates are running for freeholder in November: Alice Wood and Nicole Mantuano.
In Democratic primaries in Camden County towns, Berlin Borough Council President James Chojnacki and William Donnelly lost to Victor Lombardi and Christofer Wilhelm. And in Waterford, Committeeman Charles Hamilton defeated Dennis Lamagna.
Winslow saw the most competitive local race, with three of the four candidates endorsed by the Democratic party - Committeeman John Wilson, Thaddeus Mackey and Barry Wright - winning their wards. Wright defeated Committeeman Karl Wm. Auwarter. Louis Parzanese from the opposition slate took the fourth seat and will face GOP Committeeman Anthony Tomasello in November.
Gordon Sunkett, former president of the Winslow school board, will run as an independent against Wilson and Republican John Guthrie. Sunkett's running mate, Mark Benjamin Sr., will challenge Mackey.