Democrat Jim Quinn’s decision to give up his seat on the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners this year to run for Millville City Commissioner was a return to his roots. He had spent 16 years as mayor before winning county office in 2015.
In his bid to come back as mayor, Quinn built a slate for all five city commission seats. While Quinn won – he finished fourth out of ten candidates – all of his running mates were defeated. That means he won’t be mayor.
While Millville elections are non-partisan, there were clear party overtones. The Quinn ticket with backed by local Democrats, while several of the winners – who ran separately — are tied to Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland), a state senator and the Cumberland County Republican chairman.
The leading candidate for the mayoral post is Lisa Orndorf, who was the top vote-getter with 2,657. She was followed by Benjamin Romanik (2,652), former Commissioner Joseph Sooy (2,600), Quinn (2,520), and Charles Kirk Hewitt (2,344). School Board member Robert McQuade, Jr. finished sixth in a race for five seats with 2,165 votes.
Two incumbents who ran with Quinn, Joseph Pepitone and Bruce Cooper, lost their bids for second terms. Mayor Michael Santiago and two other commissioners, James Parent and Ashleigh Udalovas, did not seek re-election.
Pepitone finished seventh with 2,095 votes, followed by Cooper (1,1996), and two other Quinn ticket mates, Eva Perez (1,906) and Kuan Bowleg (1,691).
This was Cooper’s second consecutive loss. Cumberland County Democrats picked Cooper to run on the organization line for freeholder in 2020 after they declined to support Jack Surrency for re-election. Surrency formed an off-the-line slate that ran with congressional candidate Amy Kennedy. While Surrency lost, his running mate, former Freeholder Donna Pearson, defeated Cooper in the primary by 124 votes.
Quinn had sought an open 1st district Assembly seat in 2019 after the election of Jeff Van Drew to Congress caused a reshuffling on the legislative delegation. Democrats sent Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) to the Senate and picked former Assemblyman Matthew Milam (D-Vineland) to fill the open Assembly seat. Testa defeated Andrzejczak and the GOP flipped both Assembly seats.
Now, Quinn has his eyes on a challenge to incumbents Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City) and Erik Simonsen (R-Lower) in 2023.
While Quinn isn’t mayor, he will be a Millville Commissioner and the move back to local government might have worked out for him. Republicans won both Cumberland County Commissioner races this year, with Quinn’s running mate, three-term incumbent Joseph Derella, losing by 3,831 votes.