Stephen Steglik and Kareem Pritchett, both democrats, were sworn in today as Mount Laurel’s newest council members. Both outpaced their GOP opponents Dennis Riley and Richard Van Noord by about 2,000 votes to claim victory on Election Day.
Despite democratic gains this year up and down the ticket, Mount Laurel – pop. ~43,000 – is still a GOP-led town. Newbies Pritchett and Steglik will serve alongside Republicans Irwin Edelson, Kurt Folcher, and Linda Bobo.
Councilman Folcher was chosen by his colleagues to be Mount Laurel’s mayor in 2019. Councilwoman Bobo was chosen deputy mayor.
Steglik and Pritchett’s ascent punctuates a dominant year for democrats in Burlington County (pop. 450,000), the state’s largest by geography, who’ve long excelled in presidential years only to fall apart the remaining three years of the quadrennial cycle.
Both new councilmen made a little history on Election Day: Pritchett is Mount Laurel’s first black council member and Steglik its youngest ever.
“What’s what people are saying,” Steglik quipped to InsiderNJ. For his part, Mount Laurel’s newest, youngest-ever councilman is “feeling great and excited to get started.”
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, who represents Mount Laurel in the statehouse, was on hand to deliver the oath. Pritchett went first, flanked by his large family. Lots of hugs afterwards. Then it was Steglik’s turn. His slightly smaller entourage wore the same proud expression as Pritchett’s family. It was lovely to watch.
“It is essential,” the newly minted Councilman Steglik implored the overflow crowd, “that this council become an example, both locally and throughout this county, of what happens when representatives disregard party affiliation and lead by doing what is right for our residents first. After all, there is no monopoly on good ideas and I am eager to serve the people of Mount Laurel Township with all of my colleagues.”
Michael Muller is chairman of the Mount Laurel Democratic Committee. He helped engineer the winning campaign that led to today’s democratic incursions.
“Today is truly a historic day with the swearing-in of Kareem Pritchett as the first African-American to serve on the township council,” Muller told InsiderNJ “As Kareem Pritchett and Stephen Steglik officially take their seats on the township council this is a great day for open government, modernized communications and transparency. They will be forceful voices committed to working working in a bipartisanship way for the best interests of Mount Laurel residents.”
For Assemblywoman Murphy, today’s swearing in was personal.
“I’m very honored and proud to swear-in my good friends, Stephen Steglik and Kareem Pritchett, to the Mount Laurel Township Council,” Murphy told InsiderNJ. “They have been vocal advocates to fight for open government and reforms to bring real transparency to town hall. Stephen and Kareem worked very hard to earn the trust of Mount Laurel residents, and I know they will make us proud by forging a new accessible direction in our local government.”