Four Camden political veterans and a newcomer will challenge three incumbents and vie for an open seat in Tuesday's City Council Democratic primary races.
Though there has not been much buzz about the primaries, the candidates say they hope to encourage others to become involved in their communities and demand change.
"I just want people to open their eyes and . . . take the city back," said Ward 3 candidate Eulisis Delgado, who has run once for mayor and twice for Council.
Most of this year's primary candidates were on the 2007 Council ballot and two unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2009.
In Ward 1, Vance Bowman will challenge incumbent Dana M. Burley, who beat him, 446-382, in the nonpartisan election four years ago.
Burley, 46, is a state Assembly clerk wrapping up her first term on Council.
Bowman, 51, a housing inspector with the Camden County Health Department, said he was running because he had not seen any changes in public safety or youth recreation in his Morgan Village neighborhood. He is on the Camden Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners.
Whoever wins the Ward 1 primary will face Republican candidate Edward D. Torres, who is running unopposed on Tuesday. He is the municipal chair of the Camden County Republican Committee.
Current Ward 2 Councilman William Spearman is not seeking reelection, leaving the door open for former opponent Brian Coleman and former mayoral candidate Elton Custis.
In 2007, Coleman lost the Ward 2 primary to Spearman, 536-393. Spearman, who works at the South Jersey Transportation Authority, said he hoped to start a nonprofit dedicated to youth in the arts.
"I feel like I have other things to do," Spearman said. "Let the mayor have her crew in there."
Coleman has been endorsed by the Camden County Democratic Committee Inc., which Mayor Dana L. Redd has been a part of since her introduction to politics. The group endorsed Spearman in the last election.
Custis, 29, a substance-abuse counselor, ran against Redd during her 2009 mayoral race. He said he decided to run for Council because "it's time for all of us to get involved."
Ward 3 is home to Council President Francisco Moran, who is running against longtime Democratic rival Delgado. In November, the winner will face Clyde Cook, who is running in the Republican primary unopposed.
Cook, 36, is a pastor at Better Life Ministry in his East Camden neighborhood. This is his third time running for Council.
Moran, Camden County director of public works, has served on Council since a 1997 special election to replace Milton Milan, who was elected mayor that year.
Delgado, a 58-year-old Delaware River Port Authority maintenance worker, also ran against Redd for mayor.
The only new face in this year's primary is Shawn Burke, 25, a real estate broker and developer who has lived in the Cooper Grant neighborhood since 2007.
A native of Glendora, Burke said he fell in love with Camden's people and architecture. He decided to run for Council after the city's massive layoffs in January.
"I'm very unhappy with how things have been going," he said, adding that the city needs better street lighting, safe places for children to play, and the ability to attract and retain businesses.
Burke is running in the Ward 4 primary against incumbent Luis Lopez, 51, who works at the county division of senior and disabled citizens' services and is a former school board member.
Lopez was selected in February 2010 to fill the seat of former Council President Angel Fuentes, who was elected to the Assembly in November.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.