Candidates respond to results of race for Voorhees Township Committee

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In what turned out to be a contentious campaign, Voorhees Committee incumbent Mike Friedman defeated challenger Thomas Fanelli.

Friedman, the lone Republican on committee, edged his Democratic rival 5,414 (51.75 percent) to 5,043 (48.21 percent) for the three-year term.

“I’m very happy and truly honored and privileged to be able to represent Voorhees for another three years,” Friedman said.

Fanelli thinks it was a combination of things of why this election didn’t end up in his favor.

“It was just crazy out there with everything going on,” Fanelli said. “Democrats thought Hillary would pull them up, and it went the other way. Trump got some votes and ballots on his side. I’ve been on the planning board for a long time, which isn’t a high-profile position. Maybe I didn’t have the name recognition that Mike Friedman had. Some of the districts said we did better than we thought we would. Others thought we should have done better. It was a very interesting election this year.”

Friedman campaign manager Brian McGovern said Friedman made it his mission from the very beginning to get out in the community, knocking on more than 5,000 doors every time he’s run for office. This year, his mission was to reach even more people.

“This time it was close to 7,000,” McGovern said. “People got to meet him face to face and know what he’s about and what he stands for.”

Besides his community reach, Friedman said his experience made the difference.

“I think I’ve earned their trust,” he said. “I think their votes were based on record of achievement, not taglines and promises. I think the voters had confidence in me because they’ve seen the work effort, not only in the campaign but work effort I’ve put in over the past six years. I’m thrilled they have the confidence to put me back for another three years.”

Having Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in the presidential election trickled down to this election and gave Friedman a harder path to victory than in previous elections where there was a bigger gap in the number of votes, he said.

“There’s no question the presidential race and candidate in my party was used as a wedge, a major wedge in this election, and it did create a larger hill to climb,” Friedman explained. “However, people in Voorhees know me, and they rejected a lot of misinterpretations that were being made involving our party’s presidential nominee and renewed their confidence in me, which I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Negativity took over the campaign toward the end, with both sides accusing each other of wrongdoings.

“We had to respond to their negativity and calling him out for fabricating Mike’s record,” McGovern explained. “We didn’t like the way that the race started to get personal toward the end, but we’re glad that Voorhees voted the way it did.”

“I was very disappointed that the campaign became so negative,” Friedman said. “I feel like we ran a very clean campaign, kept our heads up and stuck to the issues because that’s what matters most to Voorhees residents. They are smart, informed voters, and they have proven that time and time again, and they rejected the negativity that came out from the other side.”

Fanelli said he didn’t think the negativity affected the outcome.

“I think both sides did what they felt they needed to do,” he said. “I’m not really sure that played into it because it was so close. I’m sure he gained and lost votes with some of the things he said, and I think I gained and lost votes with some of the things I said. I almost think it’s a wash.”

Friedman said he will waste no time working on making Voorhees an honest, balanced government.

“Overall, I want to make sure that we maintain checks and balances, and keep asking the tough questions that wouldn’t otherwise be asked if it were a five-to-zero party government and in terms of policy. I want to continue to pursue commercial naming rights sponsorships for township-owned property so we can start realizing revenue from these sources, while at the same time promoting our area of businesses so can we defray costs.”

Other elections:

In other election results, incumbent Hillary J. Garr defeated Jude J. Brown for a three-year term on the Eastern Board of Education. Dawn Wallace, Dana Galiano and John Schmus each won three-year terms on the Voorhees Board of Education. They defeated Troy A. Brocco, Richard Horner and Richard Wojdon.

In the New Jersey First Congressional District of the House of Representatives, incumbent Democrat Donald Norcross easily won re-election. Norcross defeated Republican candidate Bob Patterson, earning 62.98 percent of the vote. Patterson earned 33.87 percent.

Incumbent Democrats Edward McDonnell and Carmen Rodriguez were also re-elected to the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders by a large margin over Republican candidates Robert Stone and Claire Gustafson. Rodriguez earned 32.39 percent of the vote and McDonnell earned 32.24 percent. Stone received 17.95 percent of the vote and Gustafson finished with 17.33 percent of the vote.