Home>Local>Burlington>Democratic mayor in Burlington county switches parties, will seek re-election as a Republican

Mike Higgins being sworn in as deputy mayor of Riverside by Assemblywoman Carol Murphy in 2022. (Photo: Boroough of Riverside).

Democratic mayor in Burlington county switches parties, will seek re-election as a Republican

Riverside Mayor Mike Higgins bolts after Democrats were prepared to deny him their line

By David Wildstein, March 24 2023 11:10 am

Riverside Mayor Mike Higgins announced that he has switched parties and will seek re-election as a Republican, flipping the township committee to a 3-2 Republican majority.

The move came after local Democrats signaled that they would not support his bid for re-election after disagreements over some appointments.

“I no longer recognize the Democratic party that I signed up for,” said Higgins. “I’m trying to make my community a better place and have been disappointed at the resistance I have faced and the pressure I’ve felt to tow their party line. The Democratic leaders deserted me, and I’m thankful for the Burlington County Republican Party for accepting me and accepting my need to be able to vote for what I feel is right.”

Now he’ll run with Christy Veasy, a newcomer.  Democrat Corey Kimble is also up this year.

Burlington County GOP Chairman Sean Earlen called Higgins a “dedicated public servant.”

“We’re proud to have a big tent party that welcomes all, including – and especially – former Democrats who are looking for a more welcoming home,” Earlen said.

Higgins will join another Democrat-turned-Republican on the November ballot.  Jim Fazzone, the former Democratic mayor of Burlington City and one of the Democrats who endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2013, is the GOP candidate for county commissioner.

“As an independent thinker, I’m motivated by making the right decisions for my community, not what’s best for party bosses,” said Fazzone. “Instead of being ostracized by the Democrats, I chose to be part of the solution and came over to the Republican party and I couldn’t be happier about my decision.”

A member of IBEW Local 98 and a recovering heroin addict for more than 25 years, Higgins was first appointed to the council in 2019 and then lost his bid for an unexpired term to Republican Matthew Kirk by just one vote.  He ran again in 2020 and beat Kirk by 406 votes.

Riverside, a small town of about 8,000 people, is politically competitive.  Republican Joseph Peditto won 57% there in 2022, but voters split their tickets and elected one Republican and one Democrat to the council in 2021.   Republican Jack Ciattarelli carried Riverside by a 52%-47% margin against Gov. Phil Murphy two years ago.

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