ATLANTIC CITY — Northfield attorney Susan Korngut got a standing ovation and loud cheers from a crowd of about 340 Atlantic County Democrats on Sunday at the Golden Nugget Casino as she accepted their nomination as candidate for Atlantic County Executive.
She will challenge longtime incumbent Republican Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, who she said represents the status quo since he has been in office since 2000, “back when I had a flip phone.”
None of the races had more than one Democrat looking to be the candidate, so there were no votes to be taken other than acclimation voice votes. It made for a less than two-hour convention, as there were no speeches from competing candidates, only four-minute acceptance speeches from the nominees.
The Atlantic County Republican Convention begins at 9 a.m. March 30 at Linwood Country Club, where the GOP will nominate candidates for the same offices.
The Democrats also nominated Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo, of Northfield, and John Armato, of Buena Vista Township, for re-election to the second legislative district, and Ernest Coursey, of Atlantic City, for re-election as Atlantic County freeholder in the first district.
Officials said 181 of 325 eligible delegates attended, along with about 340 guests.
Event timekeeper Creed Pogue, of Estell Manor, said opposition to President Donald Trump has continued to generate more interest in the county’s Democratic Party, along with Democrats’ recent successes on the freeholder board and success by women and members of minority groups.
After two female Democrats won in 2017, the board consists of four women and five men. Two freeholders are African-American. Republicans still have a clear majority at of 6 to 3.
On Sunday, Hammonton’s Nick Polito was nominated for freeholder-at-large. He will challenge GOP Board Chairperson Amy Gatto, of Hamilton Township, the first female chair in the board’s history and a manager at AXA, a financial services company. Polito is a 30-year employee of the New Jersey Transportation Authority and a real estate agent.
Electrician Steve Light, of Absecon, was nominated for freeholder in District 4. He’ll challenge Galloway Township’s Richard Dase, a seventh-grade social studies teacher.
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman said the nomination convention is the longest continuous one in New Jersey history.
“We have a winning ticket. We win if we get out to the polls,” said Coursey, encouraging people to “get our souls to the polls and elect Democrats that will stick up for and fight for our values.”
Korngut said she was raised in Margate by a dad who was a successful businessman “who would have cut off his arm before he stiffed another,” a mom who was a beauty queen, and an African-American caretaker.
“Mabel Burns was born in Indian Trail, North Carolina,” said Korngut. “She lived on Sewell Avenue in Bungalow Park. She never lived with us, but she was there in morning and when I went to sleep at night” and was a powerful influence in Korngut’s life.
Burns’ great-nieces Nicole McPhail, of Woodbridge, and Michelle Zakee, of Union, were in the audience to celebrate Korngut’s nomination.
“We deserve a county executive who will fight for us and create local wealth for everyone, who will improve the health of our most vulnerable citizens,” Korngut said.
She said she will release specific information about what she would do as county executive in the coming weeks and months.