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Haddonfield readies for Tuesday's election

Two incumbents, three new office-seekers, and one former officeholder will vie for three seats on Haddonfield's board of commissioners Tuesday.

Two incumbents, three new office-seekers, and one former officeholder will vie for three seats on Haddonfield's board of commissioners Tuesday.

Taxes, infrastructure, and accountability have all been topics in the borough race. The contest will also produce Haddonfield's first new mayor in 12 years, following Mayor and Commissioner Letitia "Tish" Colombi's decision to not seek reelection.

Jeff Kasko, the deputy mayor, and Ed Borden, an attorney and former Camden County prosecutor, hope to retain their seats. Neal Rochford, a former commissioner, is trying to regain the seat he lost by eight votes in 2009. Hoping to join the board are Lee Anne Albright, president of the Historical Society of Haddonfield and a longtime community service activist; Ken Kouba, a partner in Jersey Java; and John Moscatelli, a chemical engineer and stay-at-home father.

The candidates represent the borough's differing views on the defeated $12.5 million bond referendum for the school board to buy the Bancroft property.

Two-term officeholder Borden, 64, said his goal for a third term would be maintaining the borough's quality of life while controlling property taxes. He said he favored additional shared services arrangements with other municipalities and public entities that will save money "but maintain our independence."

Borden said he supported buying the Bancroft property but respects the will of the people.

First-termer Kasko, 48, who supported the Bancroft purchase "with very strong reservations," said the commissioners have been "moving the needle in the right direction" in the last four years by limiting tax increases.

Kasko, a state Health Department administrator, supports service sharing, and said he is the only commissioner who forgoes his board salary of about $6,000 as well as health and pension benefits. In the last four years, he estimated, he has saved the town about $100,000 in pay and benefits.

During a recent forum of the Haddonfield Civic Association, Kouba and Moscatelli said they also would forgo salaries and health and pension benefits. The grassroots Haddonfield United group praised the three candidates for that position.

Borden said he collects a salary but donates it to community groups, along with the stipend - about $1,300 - he receives in lieu of a health-insurance benefit. He said he does not forgo his pension rights.

Albright and Rochford indicated they would accept salaries.

Rochford, 53, who helped found the Haddonfield Green Team, renamed Sustainable Haddonfield, said he wants to maintain infrastructure and services while keeping to a tight budget. A former borough revenue director, he has also served as shade tree commissioner.

Rochford, a consultant for the printing industry with a background in insurance, supported the Bancroft purchase.

Moscatelli, 45, who worked for the defeat of the purchase, said he would question spending decisions, which he thinks are "out of line."

Albright, 54, seeking office for the first time but a long-term participant in community service, said she would work for greater openness in borough government and increased civic engagement.

"There is frustration that information isn't there [for residents] and when they try to participate, they aren't really listened to," she said.

She praised Colombi's efforts toward accessibility and said she would expand on that, making herself available in evening hours.

An advocate of open public spaces, she said she supported the Bancroft purchase but felt the ballot question should have been more specific and more affordable.

Kouba, 25, said he would work for more transparency in government as well. He called for infrastructure repairs but with careful spending to hold the line on taxes, which he said "are through the roof."

He said he opposed the Bancroft purchase.

In terms of campaign contributions, Rochford leads with $10,978, according to the latest filing available online. Borden has $5,580; Albright $2,340; Kouba $1,641; Kasko $1,048; and Moscatelli $838.