Camden School Advisory Board Member Elton Custis will run for mayor of the city as the anti-establishment candidate, with the backing of local pastor and community activist Amir Khan.
“Elton Custis is the best person on this planet to unite people and create one Camden,” said Khan, a
former mayoral candidate who continues to buck the local party machine. “Elton brings people together, and he has been bring people together for two decades. He is a man with an absolute passion for serving the people of Camden.”
The 39-year old ran against the machine to win his School Board seat, and is ready to run in the primary with Khan and other progressives behind him on a ticket composed of the following at-large candidates:
Carmen Lozada, a former school teacher;
Carla Benson, a teacher and celebrated recording professional;
and Hector Rojas, a military veteran.
The reelection bail out by Camden Mayor Frank Moran earlier this month left the New Jersey political world bewildered by his actions, and subsequently in ho-hum mode as the region’s Democratic establishment hurried to issue its collective endorsement of machine-girded Councilman Vic Carstarphen to supplant Moran on the throne of local “power.”
Khan himself looked hard at another run for mayor.
“This is the greatest time to run right now; their organization is extremely vulnerable, the most vulnerable they have ever been, and we have a governor who is caring and loving, not a Chris Christie, who was in the back pocket of George Norcross,” said Khan. “I get it. It’s an election year, and they’ll smile now and Phil Murphy will smile, but this is the same group that said, ‘Governor Murphy, you’re not welcome.’”
But the activist ultimately said he would prefer to agitate and effect change from the outside.
“I can be more effective as an activist, not a politician,” he said.
So he’s backing Custis.
A graduate of Camden High School, Custis attended Rowan and Rutgers and works at Delaware Valley Medical. He ran for mayor and city council unsuccessfully before stunning the establishment last year by snagging a school board seat.
“I’ve always been mature for my age and I’ve always been outspoken,” Custis told TapInto in 2020. “I never let anyone talk down to me. I didn’t care what role you were in…even with my family I was challenging, which I admit got me in trouble sometimes.”
A 2013 candidate for mayor, Khan in 2019 called for the resignation from the Cooper Hospital Board of Trustee George Norcross III. Standing in front of the Sheridan Pavilion at 3 Cooper Plaza, Khan cited a ProPublica story about the so-called L3 deal and ongoing investigations by the FBI and AG’s Office into a corporate tax incentive program, which benefited Cooper and business interests close to Norcross.
Khan noted the citing of the press conference, and pointed out that the ProPublica article raised questions about the deaths of Joyce and John Sheridan, the chief executive officer of Cooper Hospital.
“What was most startling to me [about the story]? Probably the name right behind us,” said Khan, indicating the “Sheridan Pavilion.” “That article – we haven’t talked much about that – but it makes a person think.”
Norcross serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Cooper Health System, Cooper University Hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.