WEST CAPE MAY — The borough’s first November municipal election has drawn six candidates, including all three incumbents.

Mayor Pam Kaithern has filed to run for her fourth four-year term on the Borough Commission, and has formed a slate with incumbents Peter Burke, who is seeking a third term, and Carol Sabo, who seeks her first. Sabo was appointed to finish Ramsey Geyer’s term after he moved to Florida in December.

Three political newcomers also have filed to run. They are David Wilburn of Stimpson Lane, who has served with the local volunteer fire company; John Francis, of Sixth Avenue; and Stephanie La Torre, of Third Avenue. The three have formed a slate under the banner “Commissioners for All the People.”

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This is the first November election for the commission. The borough has held its nonpartisan elections in May, but a 2010 state law allows towns to move the elections to November in order to increase voter turnout and save money by piggybacking on the general election. The election is still nonpartisan.

Cape May was the first town in the area to move nonpartisan elections to November, holding one last November, and the West Cape May commission watched how it went and decided to do the same this year. The borough holds an election every four years, with all three seats decided. The winners then decide who will be the mayor.

The incumbents issued a news release highlighting this year’s property-tax reduction in the borough, one of only about 5 percent of municipalities in the state where taxes went down. Paying off debt and selling a liquor license helped reduce the municipal-purpose tax by about 1.5 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation, or $60 for the owner of a $400,000 home.

“We will run as a team on a platform including continued efficient borough operations, which contributed to the recent unprecedented reduction in property taxes,” Sabo said.

Kaithern said the three would continue supporting new and existing businesses, which helps offset taxes for residents.

“The bottom line is we’ve had ratable growth that built the ratable base due to policies on commercial and residential development. We’ve built in the appropriate places. We’re growing and employing more people,” Kaithern said.

Burke said the three would continue working to maintain the “small-town quality” of the borough while promoting a sustainable community with business growth that helps offset taxes.

The three newcomers issued a news release Thursday shortly after filing their petitions to run. They acknowledged the work of the incumbents but said they could better respond to the community’s desire to “chart a new course” based on sound long-term planning and fiscal policies “not reliant on one-time, unsustainable, stop-gap measures.”

“Moreover, the candidates want to foster a positive atmosphere within the borough, encouraging all residents to express their concerns, views and ideas to the commissioners. They pledge to listen to the voices of the community in order to serve everyone. In that regard, the spirit of the candidates’ platform is reflected in five words: commissioners for all the people,” their news release states.

The top three vote-getters will win the election and take office in January.

Wildwood Crest is another borough that decided to move its nonpartisan election to November, and all three incumbents have filed to run. They are Mayor Carl Groon and Commissioners Joyce Gould and Don Cabrera.

Contact Richard Degener:


More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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