County Government Sweep

Eric Schubert, Editor

The Burlington County Freeholder Board went through its annual reorganization meeting earlier this month, and one thing has changed – something that had been constant since 1974. Democrats have taken control of the Board, 4-1. Republicans previously held a 3-2 majority, and the majority dates back to the days of Gerald Ford’s Presidency.

Two out of three Republican incumbents were up for reelection in the 2018 midterms, Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs & Freeholder Deputy Director Linda Hughes. They were defeated by Democratic candidates Felicia Hopson & George Youngkin by over a 10,000 vote margin, which flipped the board to its first Democratic Majority in decades.

There was some scandal in this Freeholder race, however – during a Burlington County Times investigation, past domestic violence charges related to Democratic candidate George Youngkin were revealed before Election Day, and a 1990’s fraud charge was also revealed against candidate Felicia Hopson. The allegations against Youngkin were most publicized of the two, and his running mates Hopson & Joanne Schwartz (Clerk) were quick to condemn his conduct and distance themselves. He still won on Election Day but resigned shortly after being sworn into the Freeholder Board on January 1st.

Freeholder Tom Pullion was named the Board’s Director, and Freeholder Balvir Singh was named the Board’s Deputy Director – replacing Gibbs & Hughes.

The Burlington County Democratic Committee also voted recently to name Youngkin’s replacement, which led to a runoff between Delran Councilman Dan O’Connell and Gina LaPlaca. O’Connell was narrowly appointed over LaPlaca by 10 votes and will be on the ballot in November to serve a full term.

Freeholder Latham Tiver is the only Republican Freeholder remaining on the Board – he’s up for reelection this year. LaPlaca, the loser in the recent Freeholder appointment, is rumored to be a possible contender.

The Freeholder Board is now made up of: Tom Pullion, Balvir Singh, Felicia Hopson, Dan O’Connell, and Latham Tiver

Should be interesting to see if the national political environment propel Burlington County Democrats to a 5-0 Board majority come November.