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Jelani Gandy, the New Jersey State Director of the United Rural Democrats. (Photo: Jelani Gandy.)

Fernandez, Gandy formally enter Atlantic Commissioner race

By David Wildstein, March 09 2021 9:31 am

Celeste Fernandez, who lost her bid for County Commissioner in 2020 by just 381 votes out of more than 120,000 ballots cast, will run again in 2021.

Fernandez will take on Republican Frank X. Balles, a former Sheriff who won a special election convention last year following the unexpected resignation of Frank Formica.

“There is a lot of work to be done, we are not done yet,” Fernandez said.  “A new day is coming.”

She has already won the backing of the Atlantic County Demcoratic Candidate Recruitment Committee.

The panel has also recommended Jelani Gandy to run for commissioner in District 2, a heavily Republican seat that is centered in Hammonton.  The incumbent., County Commissioner Chair Maureen Kern, is expected to seek re-election.

Gandy, who worked on Amy Kennedy’s congressional campaign and as an intern for Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, is the New Jersey State Director of the United Rural Democrats.  He also has the backing of the recruitment committee.

“My values and aspirations are deeply rooted in my upbringing. My mother, who currently works for the federal government, has always inspired me to carry out my civic responsibilities with empathy and candor,” Gandy said.  “My father, now deceased, was a small business owner who demonstrated to me the value of working diligently in order to better my own future, the future of my family, and the future of our community. Though we come from vastly different generations, we share the same core values that have inspired me to devote my life to serving the people of Atlantic County.”

The 2nd district includes Linwood, Longport, Margate, Northfield, Somers Point, Ventnor, Atlantic City Ward 6 and two election districts in Egg Harbor Township.

Kern was re-elected to a second term on the Board of Commissioners in 2018 by 2,767 votes, a 56.6% to 43.4% victory over Democrat Maureen Leidy.

Fernandez is still seeking a full recount of the 2020 election.

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