A slate led by longtime Mayor James Maley defeated progressive challengers by a 2-1 margin Tuesday, dealing a blow to the Democratic insurgents in the one Camden County town where they have a grip on the local Democratic party.
Maley and his running mates, Commissioner Robert Lewandowski and local business owner Morgan Robinson, a political newcomer, faced challenges from Democratic Municipal Chairwoman Kate Delaney, county committeeman Bill Johnson and local education advocate Jen Rossi.
Robinson took Commissioner Joan Leonard’s spot on the ticket. Leonard did not seek re-election.
The longtime mayor ran a narrow second, earning 2,233 votes to Lewandowski’s 2,267. Robinson finished third in the race for three seats with 2,181 votes.
Delaney (1,022) and Rossi (1,123) ran about 70 votes behind Johnson, who had 1,195 ballots cast in his name.
The loss is a major blow to progressive opponents of South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross.
Delaney and her allies took control of Collingswood’s Democratic party amid a broader bid to wrest control of the organization from Norcross-aligned Democrats in 2019. It was their only success that year, and Tuesday’s loss at the polls bodes ill for their efforts to defend that control during next month’s primary races.
The challengers centered their campaign on poor conditions at the Parkview Apartments, a series of high-rise dwellings that house many of the borough’s low-income residents.
During the winter, the complex’s residents dealt with intermittent heat coupled with spotty repairs and infestations.
The incumbents ran on their experience, touting Collingswood’s transformation into a walkable suburb that resembles Montclair more than it does neighboring Camden County towns while arguing the challengers reform efforts would be hampered by their lack of experience.
Maley and his team ran with a cash advantage, the $39,395 they raised through April 30 more than doubling the $17,557 brought in by their challengers.
They also got some outside assistance. The Committee for Responsive Governance, an independent expenditure group affiliated with South Jersey’s organization Democrats, sent mailers backing the incumbents and launched a website lauding their accomplishments.
The outside group has not filed disclosures with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, and it’s unclear how much it spent, though its involvement drew criticism from both candidate teams.