In something of a microcosm of the national midterm elections, Washington Township, home to many South Philadelphia natives, swung Republican in a local council race for the first time since 1998.
After a hard-fought campaign, Republicans captured the three open seats on the five-member council, which Democrats in Gloucester County's most populous municipality have long dominated. The Democrats had fielded three political newcomers.
But the new GOP majority will be tempered by a Democratic mayor, Matt Lyons, who has veto power. An override would require four votes.
Lyons, entering the third year of his four-year term, said he was not worried about conducting the township's business.
When he was first elected a councilman in 1998, the GOP was in charge, he said, and he worked with the Republican mayor and a split council to get the township's amphitheater built.
The township often is "like a bellwether of the national mood," Lyons said. In the past, he noted, the township's voters, who are predominantly independent, favored Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama for president and went with Republicans Bret Schundler and Christopher J. Christie for governor.
Washington Township has 14,750 unaffiliated voters, 7,908 Republicans and 12,133 Democrats, according to county voter registration records.
Last year, voters chose Domenick DiCicco for state Assembly, making him the first Republican legislator in years to represent portions of Camden and Gloucester Counties, both Democratic strongholds.
On Tuesday, Republicans Christopher Del Borrello, Giancarlo D'Orazio, and Daniel Morley beat Democratic candidates Lisa Bercute, Matthew Gorman, and Michael Sims. The Democratic incumbents cited personal reasons when announcing they would not seek reelection.
"It's a new day for Republicans in Washington Township and in Gloucester County," Del Borrello said, referring to another GOP upset in which Republicans captured two seats on the seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, controlled by Democrats for 20 years.
"We're a new party here," Del Borrello said. "I think this election showed that a lot of people, even Democrats, were disappointed with county and township leadership, and they wanted somebody new."
Republicans also seized control in Woolwich Township, a rapidly developing community in Gloucester County. They captured a council seat in West Deptford, which had seen an absence of GOP members for 23 years, and one in Voorhees, a Camden County Democratic stronghold.