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James Kostopolis, the Democratic candidate for Burlington County Sheriff. (Photo: James Kostopolis).

Burlington Dems backing Kostpolis for sheriff

Two-time contender will seek to keep top law enforcement post in Democratic hands

By David Wildstein, March 22 2022 10:02 am

James Kostoplis will get a third shot at becoming Burlington County Sheriff after a Democratic screening committee picked him as their organization candidate on Friday night.

He defeated Lumberton Township Committeeman Terrance Benson and Westampton Township Committeeman Odise Carr to advance his bid to succeed Anthony Basantis, who decided not to seek re-election to a second term.

The screening committee vote was unanimous.   The vote still needs to be ratified by a convention, something that is considered just a formality.

Allison Eckel has been approved as a candidate for county commissioner last month to replace Linda Hynes.  Hynes resigned in January to become a Superior Court Judge.

Inexplicably, Burlington County Democratic Chairman Joseph Andl never called a special election convention to fill Hynes’ seat.  The deadline has now passed, although it’s possible that Andl might seek to seat Eckel anyway.

The party picked Eckel, a member of the Lenape Regional High School Board of Education and a 2021 Assembly candidate, as their candidate over Edgewater Park Township Committeeman Mike Trainor.

Kostoplis challenged Sheriff Jean Stanfield twice: he lost by 17,719 (58%-42%) in 2013 and by 10,047 (53%-47%) in 2016.

The 68-year-old Kostoplis is a retired Hamilton police lieutenant and Mercer County Sheriff’s Department chief warrant officer.  He’s also served as a Bordentown fire commissioner.

Republicans are running Mike Ditzel, who lost to Basantis by 8,328 votes (53%-44%) in 2019 after Stanfield, now a state senator,  announced that she was not seeking re-election to a seventh term.

Ditzel is a Burlington County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant  and U.S. Coast Guard veteran who served as Undersheriff while Stanfield held the job.

Benson, a former PBA Local 249 president and New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association leader, had sought to become the second Black sheriff of Burlington County.  Gary Daniels, a Republican, was Stanfield’s predecessor.

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