Camden County, long a Democratic stronghold, has contested Democratic and Republican primaries for two seats on its Board of Freeholders. The candidates include incumbents, independents without political experience, and a former councilman.
In Burlington County, dominated by the GOP, there is a sole challenger to the party's endorsed candidates for two freeholder seats. Marion Eggleton, a newcomer from Medford who says he's an advocate for senior citizens, opposes the endorsed slate: Evesham Township Councilman Joseph Howarth and Moorestown businesswoman Leah Arter.
In Camden County's Democratic primary, incumbents Louis Cappelli Jr. and Scot McCray, recently appointed to fill retiring freeholder Riletta Cream's seat, are running against two unknown candidates: Amy LaConte-Smith and Thomas Stearns Jr.
With property values falling in Camden County, freeholders voted to increase the property tax 8 percent last month. But Cappelli, a lawyer, and McCray, who works for the City of Camden, are campaigning on the freeholder board's earlier record of cutting taxes: The rate was 12 percent higher in 2006.
"The biggest issue is the property taxes," Cappelli said. "We have to streamline government, and we're doing that. We're also trying to encourage economic development in Camden County, like the [Cooper University Hospital] medical school, and the new dorm at Rutgers, and other projects that will expand the tax base and create jobs."
Cappelli was found earlier this year to owe more than $21,000 in back property taxes in Collingswood. He attributed the delinquency to his ongoing divorce and said Wednesday the taxes had now been paid.
Stearns did not return phone calls for comment. LaConte-Smith could not be reached.
On the Republican side, the Camden County GOP is running Joshua Rocks, a planner with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; and Eugene Lawrence, a former Gloucester Township councilman.
Opposing them are Helen Hart-Magobet and Fernando Powers. Powers, who sued the IRS in 2007, claiming it had no authority to tax him, attacked Rocks' job as a sign of ties to the county Democratic organization. Camden County is required to appoint a freeholder to the DVRPC board.
Rocks dismissed the claim but said he planned to step down from his job if he won the November election.
"I don't want anybody to think I am funneling projects to this organization," he said. "I am tired of the ways things are going in Camden County. It's all one party. There tends not to be a debate at which way the county goes."
Hart-Magobet could not be reached for comment.