BurlCo Dems set to Choose Freeholder


About 500 or so Burlington County democratic committee members will convene tomorrow (Saturday)


in Willingboro to pick someone to serve the remainder of George Youngkin’s three-year freeholder term. Hounded by claims of domestic violence that emerged during the campaign, Youngkin resigned a day after being sworn in.

Committee members will chose between seven candidates, but two clear favorites have emerged: Delran Councilman Dan O’Connell and Gina LaPlaca, who chairs Lumberton’s democratic committee.

“It’s close,” one South Jersey Democrat, a woman, told Insider. “The Freeholder board Democrats and (BurlCo Dems chair Joe) Andl are pulling hard for Dan. And Dan is unimpeachable, he’s a genuinely good person, strong union ties, very likable. But Gina has a lot of support from Andy Kim supporters cause she worked the campaign, and she has been campaigning very hard.”

What about choosing yet another straight white guy to make the unbalanced freeholder lineup even more unequal?

“Well, [Dan] is an old white straight guy but I happen to know he’s one good human being so I can’t rally against him, and he’d be a fine and caring freeholder just not the policy wonk Gina is. Plus I want the woman after the embarrassment of Youngkin, and Gina is just an exceptional person who deserves it.”

A male committee member also had identity politics on his mind.

“This vacancy only exists because of men behaving badly. If [O’Connell] gets in, there will be a 4:1 male board,” he told InsiderNJ. “If it goes to a runoff, I’d look to endorsements from the Mt Holly Mayor to move votes [in LaPlaca’s favor].”

Tomorrow’s vote, which is closed to the press, begins at 9am. If one candidate fails to break 50%, there’s a runoff afterwards, complicating things for anyone who wanted to attend to the various women’s marches around the state.

“I would have preferred that this meeting be open to the press,” BlueJersey’s Steve Stern told InsiderNJ. “But I’m not the one in a position of power.”

So what about scheduling the vote to coincide with the women’s marches?

“That question was asked to the Chairman,” Stern said on Facebook.”His answer was that law requires the replacement to be named within 35 days. He moved the first round of voting back to 9AM to try to appease the marchers, but if there’s a second round [and there will be], it falls on top of the march.”

It’s an unfortunate coincidence that could have easily avoided. Alas…

“Many committee critters, including myself, are unhappy with how things went. But the second round vote is critically important,” Stern added.

Gina LaPlaca, the odds-on second favorite to win, remained optimistic.

“I’m proud to have run a positive, issue-based campaign focused on making a direct connection to the voters, as evidenced by the fact that I have knocked on the doors of over 400 county committee members,” LaPlaca told InsiderNJ. “My hope is to bring my extensive experience in government and advancing public policy to the Freeholder Board. Regardless of the outcome of the election, I look forward to continuing to build the Democratic Party throughout Burlington County.”


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