Republicans and Democrats in Northfield are preparing for the shakeup on City Council after Republican Council President Lisa Brown's resignation later this month.

Brown's departure, due to a move out of the first ward she represents, will lead to a Republican being chosen to fill her seat until a November special election contested by both parties - and both sides see opportunity with four seats now up for grabs.

Brown, elected in 2011, was one of the first New Republicans on council along with 2nd Ward Councilman Jim O'Neill.

Since then, New Republican Jim Travagline was elected in the 2nd Ward in 2012, and O'Neill and John Dunn - gaining the primary ballot placement and endorsement of the county party - defeated incumbent Republicans Tim Carew and Tom Polistina for this year's at-large and 1st Ward nominations, respectively. Greg Dewees is running for re-election in the 2nd Ward as a New Republican.

After Brown's final meeting June 25, a new council president will be chosen out of the remaining council members, which consist of three New Republicans, two Republicans and a Democrat. Democratic Mayor Vince Mazzeo would break any tie.

The local, New Republican-controlled Republican committee then will have 15 days to choose three potential replacements, one of which must be chosen within 15 days by council, or else the committee would choose.

That person would serve until November, when a special election would determine who then serves until Brown's unexpired term ends at the end of 2014. The local committees will choose who would run in that election, and the Republican does not necessarily have to be the person chosen by council as a temporary appointment.

"We have a great ticket this year, with John Dunn and Greg Dewees," O'Neill said. "I look forward to running with whoever the party picks to run for Lisa's seat for a year."

Mazzeo said he will meet soon with Councilman and Democratic Club President Frank Perri and his committee to discuss possible candidates.

"It sure gives us a unique opportunity," Mazzeo said.

In addition to whomever is chosen to run for Brown's 1st Ward seat, Perri is running against O'Neill in the at-large race, Paul Utts is running for the other 1st Ward seat and Gerard McGee is running in the 2nd Ward.

"If we could win all those seats, we would get control of council," Mazzeo said. "Otherwise, we'd have to wait a few years."

As for Brown, she called her decision "bittersweet," saying she had been trying to find a house for years but enjoyed her time on council.

One remaining question, meanwhile, was answered by the Atlantic County Clerk's Office.

If O'Neill wins his at-large race and his 2nd Ward seat is vacated in January, Brown - who is moving to the 2nd Ward - would not be eligible at first to be appointed to represent her new ward. A residency of one year is required, according to the clerk's office.

Contact Steven Lemongello:


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