Burlington County Democrats met behind closed doors last Thursday to consider possible replacements for George Youngkin, who resigned his seat on the Board of Freeholders shortly after being sworn in on January 1.
Democrats have 35 days to replace Youngkin, had suspended his campaign in late September after the Burlington County Times reported that he had been arrested on domestic violence charges in 2006. It was too late to replace him on the ballot, but voters elected him anyway as part of a Democratic wave that shifted control of Burlington from 5-0 Republican to 4-1 Democratic in just two years.
Democratic county chairman Joseph Andl has set a special election convention for January 19 at 9 AM in Willingboro.
The seat will be up again in November, where voters will fill the 26 months remaining in Youngkin’s term.
The leading candidates are Gina LaPlaca, a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts and now the governmental affairs director for Verizon New Jersey, and Delran councilman Daniel O’Connell, the former New Jersey legislative director of the United Transportation Union.
Former Mount Holly Mayor Jason Jones, an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 269, is also viewed as formidable.
Four other candidates are continuing through the selection process: Eli Eytan, an attorney who had run unsuccessfully for the State Assembly in the Ocean County-based 10th district in 2009 and 2011; Medford Environmental Commission chairman Kevin Sparkman; former Pemberton councilman Richard Prickett, who started as a Democrat, switched to the GOP, and is now a Democrat again; and Ryk Lewis, a director and choreographer from Medford Lakes
An eighth candidate, Tayshawn Fuller, an associate minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Burlington, was disqualified because of voter registration issues.
Sustainability activist Edward Cohen, the founding member of the Mount Laurel Green Team, dropped out of the race last week.
This story was updated at 1:26 PM to include the date and time of the special election convention.