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Camden mayor Frank Moran is resigning

Frank Moran, 52, will leave the job just months before the end of his first term and November’s general election.

Camden Mayor Frank Moran in December.
Camden Mayor Frank Moran in December.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Camden mayor Frank Moran is planning to resign, and is expected to announce he will leave the job at the end of next month instead of seeking reelection.

Moran, 52, will cite health reasons in stepping down, according to three sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter. It’s unclear if he will cite a specific health matter. Moran and a spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Elected in 2017, Moran, a Democrat, would leave the job just months before the end of his first term and November’s general election. If he steps down, council president Curtis Jenkins would serve as acting mayor, and the city’s Democratic Committee would select several candidates to serve out his term. The seven-member City Council would choose his replacement from that list. That person would likely be the early front-runner to win a new four-year term in November.

General elections in the heavily Democratic city of 74,000 are largely formalities, and those without support of the South Jersey political establishment face an uphill battle. It appeared Friday that party leaders had already selected Moran’s successor: Shortly after news of the pending announcement became public, council member Angel Fuentes and Camden County Sheriff Gilbert “Whip” Wilson threw their support behind council member and former Camden High basketball star Vic Carstarphen.

“We couldn’t be prouder to support Vic as we fight to keep the positive momentum in Camden,” they said in a statement. “We urge our entire City Committee and Democratic leadership to join us in endorsing Vic Carstarphen for Mayor so we can continue the great work of Mayor Moran.”

Moran, a former council president, has more than 20 years of experience working in city and county government. Hired as a laborer by the Camden Public Works Department in 1990 and elected to Council in 1997, he also served as director of the Camden County Parks Department until his election as mayor.

Wilson, a former state assemblyman, said Moran had continued the legacy of his predecessor, former mayor Dana Redd.

“Mayor Moran has done a great job of keeping Camden moving forward,” he said. “We haven’t taken one step back since he’s been mayor — we’ve only gone ahead.”

As council president, Moran was groomed for the mayor’s office by Redd, and he also had the backing of South Jersey Democratic leaders. He won the 2017 general election with 89% of the vote.

Redd presided over an explosive stretch of development in Camden, sparked by a state tax incentive program that offered millions in tax credits to large companies that agreed to move to the long-struggling city.

Local leaders and others say the program has boosted the city’s economy and raised its profile, but it was always controversial with some Camden residents, who questioned why the deals largely involved relocating high-paying jobs from elsewhere in South Jersey and failed to create broad employment for city residents. In recent years, it has come under fire from Gov. Phil Murphy, and was the subject of an investigation into whether some companies abused the program.

Last year, Murphy and lawmakers approved an overhauled version of the program that will make available about $15 billion in business tax incentives — more than what was offered under the previous law.

Moran also supported other changes that took place under Redd, such as the creation of charter-public “Renaissance” schools under a state takeover, and a county-run police force that patrols only Camden and which has been widely credited with reducing crime.