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Cape May County Democrats have picked Joyce Gould, a seven-term Wildwood Crest Commissioner, as their candidate for Freeholder.
Gould replaces Steve Barry, who dropped out of the race for health reasons. She will run with Elizabeth Casey, an Ocean City attorney and former Assistant Counsel to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
Casey and Gould will face incumbents Republicans Gerald Thornton and Marie Hayes, who have faced a series of issues this summer that could make the freeholder race competitive for the first time since Jeff Van Drew left county government to join the State Assembly eighteen years ago.
The all-Republican freeholder board voted to censure Hayes last month related to a retaliation claim made by Board clerk Beth Bozzelli The details of the issue have not been made public.
Hayes attacked Thornton, her running mate, alleging that he lobbied her to vote in favor of a raise for his step-son, county counsel Jeff Lindsay.
An appellate court reinstated a lawsuit last month alleging that Thornton retaliated against Kim Allen, a two-term purchasing agent for the county who was not reappointed after she raised concerns over the county hiring a law firm without issuing a request for proposals as required by law.
“As we see the Freeholder Board imploding with running mates Jerry Thornton and Marie Hayes dramatically exposing their abuses, we cannot delay our message of cleaning up county government,” said Cape May Democratic County Chairman Brendan Sciara. “And I’m delighted that Joyce Gould is willing to join Liz Casey in turning government around and stopping improper activities of our elected county officials”.
Gould has been on the borough commission since 1989 and served as mayor from 1989 to 1993.
“An independent voice would prevent such troubling misbehavior by prohibiting nepotism of county officials, treating employees fairly and having a hiring practice fair and open to residents,” Gould said. “With Liz Casey, I look forward to having our voices loudly heard on the Freeholder Board.”
Van Drew, then the Mayor of Dennis, won a seat on the Cape May County Board of Freeholders in 1994, defeating Republican incumbent Gary Jessel by 2,648 votes, a 54%-46% margin. He gave up his seat in 1997 to run for Assembly but lost to incumbent Nicholas Asselta (R-Vineland) by 1,811 votes after holding Asselta to an 824-vote win in the Cape May portion of the district.
In 2000, Van Drew reclaimed his freeholder seat when he ousted his successor, incumbent Mark Videtto, by 11,513 votes, a 63%-37% margin.
After Democrats began to sense the tide trending their way during the summer of 2001, they pulled Robert Balicki from the 1st district Assembly race and replaced him with Van Drew.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler carried Cape May by just 353 votes that year against James McGreevey, 17,471 to 18,118. Van Drew unseated Republican Assemblyman John Gibson (R-Sea Isle City) by 1,204 votes. He beat Gibson by 1,309 votes in Cape May, while Gibson carried Cumberland by 92 and Atlantic by 14.