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Burlington County Freeholder-elect Dan O'Connell. The Delran councilman and labor leader won a special election convention on January 19 by 10 votes. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

O’Connell wins Burlington Freeholder seat

By Nikita Biryukov, January 19 2019 3:07 pm

Delran Councilman Daniel O’Connell defeated Gina LaPlaca by 10 votes, 190-180, in a runoff to replace former Burlington County Freeholder George Youngkin, who resigned immediately after being sworn in earlier this month.

“I want to thank everybody that helped me, especially my Delran political family … I couldn’t have done any of this without you,” O’Connell said.

Youngkin suspended his campaign after news that he had been arrested on Domestic violence charges in 2006 became public, but he remained on the ballot and won out over incumbent Republican Freeholders Kate Gibbs and Linda Hughes.

In the first round, O’Connell narrowly edged out LaPlaca, 174-171.

“I said at the beginning of this, win or lose, it has been such a privilege to honestly get to know all of you and to get to know our communities in Burlington County so much better than I ever did,” LaPlaca said

LaPlaca, a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, is director of government affairs for Verizon New Jersey.

In total, seven candidates vied for Youngkin’s seat.

Former Mt. Holly Mayor Jason Jones, who is now an electrician for the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers Local 269, was viewed as a formidable challenger to O’Connell and LaPlaca, but ultimately got only a small portion of votes in the first round.

Former Assembly candidate Eli Eytan, Medford Environmental Commission Chairman Kevin Sparkmen, former Pemberton Councilman Richard Prickett and Ryk Lewis, a director and choreographer from Medford Lakes, also ran for Youngkin’s seat on the Freeholder Board.

O’Connell will run again in November for the remaining two years of Youngkin’s term. Even if he loses Latham Tiver, the last remaining Republican on Burlington’s Board of Freeholders wins his reelection race, Democrats will hold a 3-2 majority.

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