Cherry Hill Township Council candidates reflect on election results

Democratic incumbent Carolyn Jacobs defeated Republican challenger Rick Short for a one-year, unexpired term on Cherry Hill Township Council yesterday.

Yesterday, Cherry Hill voters elected Carolyn Jacobs for the first time in a special election to fill a one-year, unexpired term on township council.

Jacobs, the Democratic nominee for the seat, defeated Republican nominee Rick Short on Election Day. According to the unofficial results from the Camden County Board of Elections, Jacobs earned 58.15 percent of the vote, while Short earned 41.79 percent. There were 16 write-in votes, and 3,405 voters did not choose a candidate. All of the results are unofficial until the county board of election certifies them in the coming weeks.

Jacobs said she was happy to win her first council election. Jacobs is serving her first year on town council. She was appointed to council in January to fill the seat vacated by Susan Shin Angulo, who resigned from council at the end of 2015 after being elected to the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders last year.

“It actually feels quite good,” Jacobs said. “I’m really grateful to Mayor (Chuck) Cahn and the other members of township council who have given me the ultimate support.”

Jacobs described the election process as unusual because it was the same year as a presidential election. Regular council elections occur in odd-numbered years, with either the mayor and three council seats or four council seats up for election.

Jacobs said she plans to continue being a visible presence at township events over the next year. In thanking the voters for their support, she vowed to listen to the residents’ concerns about any issue.

“Any and all decision that I make are with the best interests of the Cherry Hill citizens at heart,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs also credited Short for running a strong campaign, saying Short kept her on her toes during the fall.

Short was extremely disappointed after losing Tuesday’s election, saying he felt having the council remain all-Democrat would keep the township from progressing in a number of areas.

“People do not vote on issues,” Short said. “They down ballot. I’m not doing a good enough job as a politician to raise these issues.”

Short pointed out a number of areas he felt are problematic in Cherry Hill, including traffic, overdevelopment, lack of school funding and the recent report revealing lead in water outlets at five Cherry Hill schools. He said with one-party rule, many of the issues in the township are not being fixed.

“Nothing ever changes,” Short said. “Nothing ever improves.”

Despite the loss, Short feels some progress is being made. He talked about how the Cherry Hill United Facebook group has allowed residents to have a voice in opposing some township decisions and feels it is the starting point for future election success.

Short did win a greater percentage of the vote this year than three Republican candidates earned in the council election in 2015. Last year, the Republican ticket of Short, Stephen Cohen and Nancy O’Dowd combined to earn 35.58 percent of the vote. Short’s percentage increased by more than 6 percent this year.

“Things are changing,” Short said. “They’re not happening overnight.”

While there will be no changes on council next year, there will be some changes on the Cherry Hill Board of Education. Voters elected two newcomers, Ruth Schultz and Edward Wang, and one incumbent, Jane Scarpellino, to three-year terms.

Schultz led the way with 20.33 percent of the vote, Scarpellino finished in second place with 19.26 percent and Wang finished in third place with 18.04 percent. Schultz and Wang are newcomers to the board, while Scarpellino was elected to her first full term. Scarpellino was unopposed in an election for a one year, unexpired term in 2015.

The other incumbent running in the election, Steve Robbins, was not re-elected on Tuesday. Robbins finished in fourth place with 12.86 percent of the vote. He has served on the board since 2007.

Rounding out the board of education results, Ian Morris finished in fifth place with 12.02 percent of the vote, Joseph Gerace finished in sixth place with 10.10 percent, and Fredrick Dande finished in seventh place with 7.06 percent.