Prepare to Vote

Every vote counts. Before you head to the polls, however, be informed about your choices. As in previous years, SNJ Today brings you profiles of the candidates. This week, Cumberland County freeholder and clerk candidates describe where they stand on the issues that affect Cumberland County and the region. Last week, we profiled State Senatorial and Assembly candidates for the 1st Legislative District.

Also included in our Election Guide:

• Public Question #1

• Polling Place changes in the county

• Board of Education candidates in Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton school districts.

 

Polling Place Changes

• Bridgeton Ward 04 District 01
Bethany Seventh Day Adventist Church, 32 S. Burlington Rd., Bridgeton, 08302
* American Legion Post #95 has moved to the above location

• Vineland Ward 01 District 04
Vineland Vehicle Maintenance Building, 57 W. Park Ave., Vineland
* Max Leuchter School has moved to the above location

• Vineland Ward 02 District 05
Landis Sewerage Authority (LSA) Office, 1776 S. Mill Rd., Vineland
* Cumberland Christian School has moved to the LSA location

• Vineland Ward 03 District 01
Police Athletic League (PAL)
20 S. Sixth Street, Vineland, NJ 08360
* Vineland Midget Football Clubhouse has moved to the above location

Cumberland County Clerk Candidates

On November 5, voters in Cumberland County will choose from among two candidates running for one seat as County Clerk and among four candidates running for two seats on the County Board of Chosen Freeholders. On this page, County Clerk candidate profiles appear in alphabetical order. On pages 4 and 5, County Freeholder candidate profiles appear in alphabetical order.

Victoria Lods, Republican

I love Cumberland County, and I’m willing to fight for it. I’ve lived here my entire life; chose to stay, be part of my community and raise a family here. I’m proud to be the fifth generation living on our family’s farm in Vineland with my husband, and our two sons. I graduated from Vineland High School and Cumberland County College. I started my career in a local legislative office helping constituents find state services they so desperately needed, and later went on to become Chief of Staff to Senator Asselta. After nearly 10 years I shifted my career to non-profit work as the Executive Director for Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity where I stood shoulder to shoulder with local families helping them achieve their dream of homeownership. Today I’m an educator at Bridgeton High School where I get to work with the most important citizens of our county everyday—our children.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Cumberland County is a beautiful place, but we have our challenges providing jobs, attracting businesses, fighting crime, and affording the taxes and cost of living that continue to climb. Over the years, I can’t help but notice an overarching theme to these issues and so many more that our county faces—complacency. Elected officials are not rising to the challenging needs of our unique county. We need to fight harder, and do better to find solutions. Residents around the county, from Maurice River to Stow Creek, from Vineland to Downe Township and everywhere in between should not have to accept anything less than someone who will stand up and fight for our beloved county.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

I will create a contract with the county to do four things. First, advocate for Cumberland County at the state level against numerous unfunded mandates that are drastically changing the voting process and continuing to burden the taxpayers of our county. This year alone, there was a 27 percent increase in change order costs covered by Cumberland County taxpayers to satisfy Governor Murphy’s new vote-by-mail mandates.

I will revitalize our veterans’ services to offer a true menu of benefits to our most valued citizens in the county—our veterans. Today there are a mere 20 participating businesses in the program. With over 6,000 businesses in the county we can certainly do better for our vets.

I will enhance easy access to information online and with services that travel to our county residents, not just services at locations that may not be cost-effective, and convenient to only some.

And finally, I will engage disenfranchised voters by reaching out to schools, seniors and those who have not voted in years to get them excited about voting again and ensuring the process is a simple one where every vote is guaranteed to be counted.

Please provide a closing statement:

I’m making a contract with the voters of this county to be an advocate and serve them in the most user-friendly and cost-effective ways possible. Regardless of political affiliation, I pledge to stand with local leaders to fight in the best interests of Cumberland County residents. I was raised in a family full of small business owners who continuously emphasized the importance of hard work, family and helping each other; united we stand, divided we fall. I will deliver that same philosophy as your county clerk. I have watched far too many people move out of our county. I don’t want to see my sons forced away from their home someday because nobody fought to keep Cumberland County a place where businesses and families can thrive. I am humbly asking for your vote on Tuesday, November 5th because I have the energy and resolve to stand up for our county.

Celeste Riley, Democrat (incumbent)

Cumberland County is my home, which is why I decided to leave the Assembly and run for County Clerk five years ago and why I am asking for your vote again.

I was raised here as one of 11 children, I was a part of the first graduating class of Cumberland Regional High School and I served as the first female Assemblywoman from Cumberland County.

I’m married to Richard Dawson and we share five daughters; three sons-in-law, four grandsons, two granddaughters, and one really, really COOL dog.

I got my start in public service by serving on the Bridgeton City Council and while in the Assembly I made it my passion to serve as a prominent leader for women and children’s issues.

I’m a 1978 graduate of Cumberland Regional High School. I have a B.A. from LaSalle University and an M.S. degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

1) To design our systems to assist in economic development.

2) To make elections more accessible so more voices can be heard.

3) To create a service-based atmosphere to make our services convenient for our constituents.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

One of my principles is that progress starts with a vision and service starts with dedication.

The Clerk’s office is on the front lines when it comes to providing services to our residents and when I was sworn in, I knew we must improve our outreach, increase our accessibility and modernize to gain efficiency.

This not only included upgrades in terms of technology but also in attitude and energy. I wanted to make our services not only accessible, including the new store at the Mall, but convenient and positive.

One of the most important functions of the office is making sure every resident who wants to make their voice heard and exercise their right to vote has the opportunity to do so. Each year we look for new and innovative ways to increase participation, not only protecting that right but making it easier to do so.

The Clerk’s office is the front door to developers and new businesses. We have designed our office to be welcoming and ready to assist them.

Please provide us with a closing statement:

I am proud of the work we have done over the last five years, and I believe residents across the County are beginning to see the results of our efforts. I am asking for your vote, so that I can continue working for you, working for Cumberland and working for our future.

Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders


Douglas Albrecht, Republican

Over the years I have gained valuable experience in both the private and public sectors. Whether it is managing and operating a small family business, serving on the Vineland City Council, as Director of the Vineland Downtown Improvement District, UEZ Board or serving on various volunteered boards in leadership positions, I have the experience of balancing budgets, managing employees, and resolving conflicts as well as developing and implementing short- and long-term strategic plans. I believe this collective experience will be invaluable in working for the people of Cumberland County as your Freeholder.

In addition, I have my B.A. in Government and Economics from University of Maryland and my M.B.A. from Rowan University. I am married to Sophia (Frangakis) and we have one son (Samuel) and I am an active member of Saint Anthony GOC.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

For far too long Cumberland County has been at or near the bottom of all the wrong categories. We are currently double the national average in unemployment and at times triple. Our taxes have never been higher but the income level continues to be the lowest in New Jersey, which has led to many of our best and brightest leaving Cumberland County in pursuit of better opportunities to earn a living and settling and raising their families elsewhere. It is simple, we must raise employment opportunities to improve the income level of county residents.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

We need to simplify and streamline our regulations in regards to attracting and growing business in the county, and that includes our taxing practices. I will not reinvent the wheel; many of the problems facing the county may already have been studied and over-studied by our county professionals and numerous consultants that were bought and paid for by taxpayers of this county. It is time to review and listen to these professionals and implement some of those suggestions.

We must start targeting industries by thinking outside the box using all of the resources that we have available to change the direction of this county. We cannot rely on any help from Camden or Trenton, we must be self-reliant.

Together we can lead a Cumberland County Comeback, which means jump-starting the economy by attracting and growing local businesses that will create jobs that raise our income level, making our county more affordable to our residents. This will allow Cumberland County to grow our tax base and in time stem the “brain drain,” where a number of our best students are leaving for college or better trade opportunities and never return.

Please provide a closing statement:

Cumberland County has developed the unenviable reputation of being at or near the bottom in all the wrong categories, which includes having the highest unemployment rate in the state.

I’m running for Freeholder because I believe Cumberland County can make a comeback and that the role of a Freeholder is to represent and fight for Cumberland County’s hard-working families and retirees. I want to bring new leadership and energy to the Freeholder Board with a proactive roll-up-your-sleeves attitude and willingness to listen to various stakeholders in our local community and in the end implement those plans to correct these problems.

Darlene Barber, Democrat (incumbent)

First, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as your Freeholder. We have been implementing a multi-phased program to improve our economic outlook, launched innovative reforms that improved access to education, and have made unprecedented investments into our communities, making us a model for other counties to follow.

I was born and raised here in Cumberland County, attended Bridgeton High School and together with my husband George have raised two amazing children.

Before becoming Freeholder, I was the Superintendent of Schools for the Cumberland County Board of Vocational Education. I graduated from Rowan University with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and I have been involved with various boards and organizations throughout the County.

My career has taught me that when you build a plan through collaboration, execute the plan through cooperation and stay focused on the plan’s continuation, you can accomplish great things.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Every day as a Freeholder, my mission is to improve the quality of life for our residents. While we are all proud to call Cumberland County home, our communities are better served when residents have access to well-paying jobs. Our communities are stronger when residents feel as though their neighborhoods are safe. Our future is brighter when companies are moving back into the County instead of moving out.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

One of the great things about our Freeholder Board is that we have not been distracted by the divisiveness that is destroying our political climate nationally. Instead, we have focused on a vision and are executing a plan to make that vision a reality.

When I became Freeholder the unemployment rate in the County was a disastrous 14 percent, businesses were leaving, our infrastructure was failing, and we ranked at the bottom of every important list.

Today, the County is moving in the right direction but there is work to be done. Opening the doors to CCTEC was a momentous day, but since we have improved the County College, brought in new industry and businesses, and have made unprecedented investments into growth and development.

We need to continue this work. Our Board has proven that we will not rest until our goals are realized. We are working on new ideas to build off the landmark expansion of the college, we are building on our relationship with the Improvement Authority and we continue to improve our working relationships with each municipality.

Please provide a closing statement:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Freeholder. It has been an honor and a privilege. I am seeking re-election not only because I know there is work still to be done, but because I believe in the future of Cumberland County.

We are blessed with amazing people, great resources and an unlimited potential. However, I know the philosophies of the past have failed us and we have worked hard to build a better road to the future. We must work together to bring jobs to the region. We must make sure that our residents are given priority in hiring. We must improve our roads, bridges and dams. We must continue to improve our County so that future generations want to live, work and raise their families here.

Jeffrey Bordley, Republican

I am a lifelong resident of Vineland. I am retired from the Bridgeton Police Department and currently work as a Senior Code Enforcement Inspector for the City of Vineland Public Works Department. I am married to my wife Beth for 15 years and have three wonderful children, Juliana (18), Mia (14), and Chase (9). I am the proud son of a U.S. Army National Guardsman and veteran, SFC John W. Bordley Jr. (ret.) and Marge Bordley. I have been blessed with wonderful parents who have taught me the value of public service and have guided my life by examples of how to be a good person and public servant through their service.

I became involved in politics when I was faced with issues that affected my family. After speaking to others about these issues, I realized that I was among many who faced similar issues and change could be done if I were to run for office and make the changes from within.

My political career began as I served as a Vineland School Board member from 2016 to 2018. I served in the capacity of Vice President (2017) and President (2018) and I believe this experience has helped prepare me for the office of County Freeholder.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

1) Cumberland County has a financial crisis. Our taxes continue to rise and our services and amenities continue to diminish or remain the same.

2) Cumberland County continues to rank last in all of the most important quality-of-life issues. We remain the only county in the State of New Jersey without a parks system and we do not offer our citizens any type of recreation.

3) Our veterans continue to receive sub-standard representation. Our veterans have a fantastic representative, Diane Pittman, representing them; however, she is inundated with an enormous number of veterans and often cannot respond to everyone’s needs. We can do better by offering more assistance to Ms. Pittman to better serve our veterans and their families.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

1) We continue to have higher taxes and less or equal service. I intend to examine the budget and find ways to either cut spending or reallocate funds to other areas to increase our services to the public. We can move forward without raising taxes and offer better services.

2) By creating a parks system, we can attract bigger businesses to assist our tax base. We can create a parks and recreation system that offers our township citizens and their children an outlet to play sports or learn music, arts, and performing arts. We can make partnerships with community stakeholders to assist with building a better County to live and participate in. Recreational sports are an outlet for youth to learn to overcome adversity, improve their self worth, have positive role models and socialize with other youth who are different and culturally diverse. Through this we can improve mental health, have a positive impact on obesity amongst our youth and teach acceptance, tolerance, and respect for one another.

3) By creating new business tax ratables, examining our budget and working with our legislature we can add staff to our veterans’ services department. By adding staff, we can offer better service and have a more positive impact on the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for us. We can offer these services without adding to our tax base by trimming overlapping services and unnecessary services.

Please provide a closing statement:

I am excited for the opportunity to serve our beautiful County. I believe that as a Freeholder, I will be able to work with the sitting board to create positive change for our County and to keep our taxes stable without major increases. Our citizens deserve a Freeholder Board that is dedicated to offering services and activities to them to improve the overall quality of life and to do so without continuously raising taxes on an already over-taxed County. I believe that through bi-partisan collaboration, we can create new tax ratable business while offering improved assistance and activities that will create a better County, better perception of our community and better health overall for our citizens.

Christopher Jennings, Democrat

I am proud to tell everyone I was born, raised and work right here in Cumberland County.

I joined the Army National Guard, serving our County for six years, after I graduated from Vineland High.

For the past 25 years I have worked with incarcerated individuals at Southwood State Prison, to learn trades so they can seek jobs when they are released. I also served on the Vineland School Board for over six years, including one year as the President.

While I am driven by the chance to lead and serve others, my real passion is my family, my wife Darla and sons Trevor and Austin. I am lucky that both of my sons have decided to live and work in Cumberland County and I believe if we continue to invest in our future, bring jobs to the region, and recruit new businesses even more parents will have the same experience.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Cumberland County’s future is going to be built upon a vision that is focused on bringing jobs to the region, investing in our infrastructure and working to make our communities safer.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

One of the lessons my parents taught me was that if you keep moving forward, good things will happen. I see that happening in the County right now, where we have taken some giants steps forward but also have some hurdles to overcome.

In order to bring the high-paying jobs our residents deserve, we need to continue to find new and innovative ways to develop our workforce. We need to be aggressive in promoting our tourism districts and work to bring our downtowns back to life.

As Freeholder, I will be the voice of every parent who wants to leave a better community for their children. For every working person who wants the opportunity to practice their trade, skill and profession in the community we proudly call home. For every resident and senior who wants to continue to call Cumberland home.

Please provide a closing statement:

I am running for Freeholder because I believe in our future. I am asking for your vote so that I can be your voice and together we can build a better tomorrow. I understand that government is not perfect, but I believe if we work together, build upon the pride we all share in our community, and stand for the principles that unite us we can make a difference.

BOE Races in Cumberland County

All 14 municipalities in the county will select school board members, including the largest—Vineland, Bridgeton, and Millville.

Three of nine seats on Vineland’s school board are up for at-large general election on November 5. Vying for three-year terms are incumbents John Sbrana, Eugene Medio and Nicholas Fiocchi who face challengers Danielle Carroll, Cecile Aschwanden, and Kimberly Codispoti. Running for one unexpired two-year term on the Vineland BOE are Alix Silva, Curtis Davis, and Robert Novicke.

In Bridgeton, three incumbents—current BOE President Ashlee Todd, Angelia Edwards, and Tyrone Williams—are up for re-election for three posts.

Likewise in Millville, three incumbents—Robert McQuade, Michael Whilden, and Kevin Asselta—seek re-election to three seats. Current Vice President Michael Beatty looks to fill one unexpired one-year term on the Millville board.