At the Cape May County Democratic Committee meeting Monday (1-9-23), members elected Marie Blistan as their new chair to replace Daniel M. Kurkowski, who was appointed a Superior Court judge last month.
The committee will miss Kurkowski, and, in a statement, said members are confident that Blistan, who has a lifetime of service and a wide range of organizational and leadership skills, will keep up the momentum.
“I am honored to continue the work that Chair Kurkowski led that has strengthened the foundation for Cape May Democrats,” said Blistan. “I am excited to work with my fellow committee leaders and members as well as my fellow Democratic Chairs to support a diverse pool of Democratic candidates into elected positions with the upcoming elections.”
Blistan is the first woman in memory to be elected chair of the Cape May County Democratic Committee.
Blistan served as an elected officer of the New Jersey Education Association representing over 200,000 public school employees for a dozen years as secretary-treasurer, vice president, and president before retiring to her home in Wildwood Crest in 2021. She served as leader of the Wildwood Crest Democrats. She also serves on the county Veterans’ Advisory group and is a member of the Cape May County NAACP.
Her activism began in her first year as a teacher at Somerdale Public Schools, Camden County, and continued throughout her teaching career at Washington Township, in Gloucester County. She led her local unions in advancing educational improvements and became the president of the Gloucester County Education Association. As an NJEA officer, she spearheaded efforts to protect programs for students in special education and actions to have state funds released for public schools. She led statewide reactions to disasters including Hurricane Sandy, and the Covid-19 pandemic, and worked on emergency response plans to address school shootings. She worked with other unions to raise the minimum wage and led efforts on a variety of issues including legislation to make health care affordable for members and taxpayers, as well as raising the union’s influence in state politics.
For her efforts to improve our academic, social, and civic lives, she has been honored by prestigious organizations including the NAACP, the FMBA (Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Assoc), the NJ State Democratic Committee, the Essex County Democratic Committee, the American Labor Museum, and the Work Environmental Council. Her awards include the Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award, Kidbridge’s Humanitarian Award, and the Shirley Chisholm Breakthrough Leadership Award.
She and her husband, Bob, have three children and six grandchildren.