Democrats win big in 2017 Cherry Hill Township Council election

Incumbents David Fleisher, Carolyn Jacobs and Carole Roskoph and newcomer Sangeeta Doshi won last week’s election, combining to earn 67.3 percent of the vote.

Cherry Hill Township Council will remain all Democrat in 2018, as incumbent candidates David Fleisher, Carolyn Jacobs and Carole Roskoph and newcomer Sangeeta Doshi won easily in the election last Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Camden County Board of Elections.

The four Democrats defeated Republican candidates Andrew Behrend, Scott Cohen, John Papeika and Joseph Rodi Jr. Fleisher, Jacobs, Roskoph and Doshi earned a combined 67.3 percent of the vote. The four Republican candidates garnered 32.6 percent of the vote. The Democrats’ win was the largest margin of victory in a Cherry Hill Township Council election over the past 10 years.

Some history was made on Election Night with Doshi being elected to her first term on council. Doshi is believed to be the first Indian-American elected to municipal office in South Jersey.

Doshi said her family immigrated to the United States when she was 3 years old. She spoke proudly of her parents and said their community mindfulness helped pave the way for her to serve Cherry Hill. Doshi feels Cherry Hill’s diverse community is one of the town’s biggest assets.

“It’s important to represent all people of Cherry Hill,” she said.

“Barriers are meant to be broken,” Fleisher said. “Sangeeta Doshi will be an outstanding council member and represent the people of Cherry Hill well.”

The Democratic candidates expressed their thanks to the voters for their support during the campaign season.

“It’s very humbling,” Roskoph said of winning re-election. “I’m very grateful to the residents of Cherry Hill for all of their support and for the hard work of volunteers that got us here.”

“I am grateful to the voters of Cherry Hill for their strong support,” Fleisher said. “I was elected to represent our entire community, and will be rolling up my sleeves to ensure residents continue to have a town hall that delivers top-notch services with a close eye on the bottom line.”

Jacobs felt the Democratic win indicated the township was moving in the right direction under the current leadership.

“I didn’t hear anybody who was really displeased with the direction Cherry Hill was going,” Jacobs said about the campaign process. “We’ve done a good enough job talking about our fiscal responsibility and the fact we haven’t had a tax increase. I talked to people who were very happy with our recreation department and everything they were doing for parks, playgrounds and historical properties.”

Cohen and Papeika said they were disappointed in the election results even though they knew how tall of a challenge it would be to unseat the incumbents. Cohen believed there were a number of disenchanted voters in the township, but felt too many of them voted down the Democratic column instead of examining the local issues.

“A lot of people that complained about the establishment wound up voting for them,” Cohen said. “A lot of people complain about the system, the traffic, the apartments. But they downballoted.”

“I thought the election would’ve been a little closer,” Cohen added.

Papeika expressed dismay at the low voter turnout in Cherry Hill and countywide. About 38.2 percent of Cherry Hill registered voters voted either at the polls or via mail-in ballot this year. While voter participation is about the same as four years ago, it is much lower than eight years ago, when voter participation was 47.2 percent.

Papeika said he was disheartened on Election Night when saw only about 27 percent of Cherry Hill voters went to the polls. An additional 11 percent voted by mail.

“That’s abysmal if you think about it,” Papeika said of the voter turnout. “This affects a lot of people’s lives.”

Moving forward, the Republican candidates said they hope township council does a better job of listening to the residents.

“I feel like council as a whole does not listen to residents and they’re more worried about what serves them,” Papeika said.

Rodi asked his supporters to support the elected officials in helping to bring the community together on various issues.
I’ve always believed that Cherry Hill offers opportunities to all who work hard to pursue them,” Rodi said in an email. “I know our elected officials believe that too. I urge all those who supported me to join me in not just congratulating our elected candidates, but offering them our good will and desire to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore a sense of one community.”

All election results are unofficial until the Camden County Board of Elections certifies them. The results do not include provisional ballots.

Behrend did not respond to a request for comment prior to deadline.