Early voting results on Tuesday gave Democrats the edge in their bid to regain control of the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
With slightly more than 28 percent of the vote counted, vote totals supplied by the Cumberland County Board of Elections showed Democrats Joseph Derella and Doug Long were leading in the race for the two three-year terms on the board.
Residents cast 6,859 votes for Long, 6,833 for Derella, 5,112 for Thomas Sheppard, and 4,788 for Mary Gruccio. Republicans Sheppard and Gruccio are incumbents.
Should the voting trend stand, Tuesday’s polling results will give Democrats a 5-2 majority on the freeholder board.
Republicans gained control of the board last year, giving them a majority on the panel that they have held only three times in about four decades.
Democrats lost control of the board last November in an election that could be considered a success for the party: Three of their four freeholder candidates were victorious at the polls.
However, Republicans took control of the board when Gruccio defeated Democrat James Dunkins for the last year of a three-year seat vacated by Democrat Louis Magazzu in August. 2011. Magazzu resigned from the freeholder board after nude photographs of himself that he sent to an alleged Internet girlfriend surfaced on the Internet.
No such dramas surrounded this year’s campaign.
All four candidates proposed the possibility of making the Cumberland County Education Center a full-time facility.
Gruccio and Sheppard said they wanted to save county taxpayers money by creating a new department within county government to handle legal matters. They said that, even though the proposal involved hiring staff, it could still save taxpayers about $200,000 annually.
Long and Derella said they wanted to create new marketing campaigns that would attract much-needed new businesses and jobs to the county. The Democrats said the Cumberland County Improvement Authority could provide necessary start-up funds for those businesses.