Uncontested History

Haddonfield experienced some of the same things in 1945 as it does today

This was the front page page of the Haddon Gazette from May 10, 1945. This was the last time the Haddonfield Commissioner Election ended in an uncontested election

On the second floor of the Haddonfield Public Library, there is an area by the elevators that houses archives of local papers. There is also a microfilm machine that allows a reader to relive the events of a certain date in history. With the 2017 borough commissioners election being uncontested, it gives an opportunity to look back on the last time this occurred — 1945.

Heading into the 1945 election, Haddonfield residents had most of their attention on World War II. With residents fighting overseas, many who were family members or neighbors, it was at the top of a lot of people’s minds. For every war bond campaign, there would be a notice stating a soldier, such as Lt. Harry Glenz, was a prisoner in Germany.

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Groups that would help support the war, such as the Haddonfield Hometown Committee, would let everyone know what the soldiers from the area who were fighting the war overseas were receiving from home and how they were doing. The Haddonfield Lions Club and Haddon Fortnightly also held events to keep morale high in the borough but also support the war effort.

Some things that are broadcast through the media today also took place back then. Around the time of the election, the state cut the amount of aid to education. According to the Gazette, the $1.4 million reduction over 12 years was bucking the trend of what other states around the country were doing.

If someone paid the $1.50 yearly subscription of the Haddon Gazette, he or she would have read in the May 3, 1945, edition headline stating “Commissioners Deserve a Vote of Confidence.” In the article, it had the following passage:

“In the coming municipal election of May 8, the incumbent commissioners Robert B Chew, Alfred E Driscoll and F Victor Westermaier have no opposition for re-election. This in itself shows what the citizens of Haddonfield are satisfied with what they have accomplished and wish these men to continue their good work. This Borough is a $12,000,000 corporation which has been efficiently and conscientiously governed by our three present Commissioners who have given freely of their time and ability to give us an outstanding administration.”

The next edition of the Gazette may have seemed like something you would read today, but only the names would have changed. The results of the Haddonfield Commissioners election were announced. There were no surprises. The trio of Chew, Driscoll and Westermaier were all re-elected. There were 12 write-in votes for Haddonfield resident Charles W. Kaufman. The only problem was he finished 672 votes behind Chew, who amassed the third most votes in the election. Haddonfield Memorial High School would be putting on a concert in which the admission was only 50 cents. If anyone wanted to stick around for the intermission, you could hear a speech about the importance of buying war bonds.

There was one headline that was smaller than the announcement that a seventh War Bond drive was starting but bigger than the election results. The headline read “Germany Surrenders to Western Allies.” The event, which occurred on May 7, was being announced for the first time in the Gazette. The Gazette noted the following had happened:

“In Haddonfield, there was a quiet rejoicing after the President’s Proclamation was heard. The public schools were closed for the day and the business houses, for the most part, were closed.” It was a little, yet subtle paragraph of what the event meant to the people of Haddonfield.

While only 10.75 percent of Haddonfield residents voted in the 1945 election, it will be interesting to see what voter turnout will be in 2017. If 730 voted, including 197 service members who thought it was important to send their ballots from overseas for an election whose outcome was all but determined, will today’s voters hold the election with the same amount of importance, if not more?

Everyone will find out what will happen May 9.

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