Atlantic County Commissioner Frank X. Balles called on Celeste Fernandez to concede the 2020 county commission race as she prepares to again seek a seat on the body this year.
“Ms. Fernandez has received the nomination of her party for the 2021 election,” Balles said. “It is time for her to stop wasting the courts time and concede to Commissioner Risley and withdraw her motion with the Court of Appeals.”
The Democrat finished just 381 votes — out of more than 120,000 ballots cast — behind Commissioner John Risley last year.
A state-mandated audit and a court-ordered recount of changed the result by a single favor, though those tallies only accounted for about 6% of ballots cast.
Fernandez is now seeking a full recount, a move opposed by Republicans and the New Jersey attorney general’s office. At the same time, she’s mounting a campaign against Balles with the support of Atlantic County Democrats.
“Celeste Fernandez can’t have this both ways — she needs to either immediately withdraw her challenge to the election last year or drop out of the 2021 campaign,” Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis said.