CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Cape May County Republicans will hold a special convention to replace Freeholder Kristine Gabor, who is resigning in September to focus on a new job that requires out-of-state travel.
Gabor, of Upper Township, in a letter to the Cape May county clerk, said she will resign Sept. 16, three days after the deadline that would have put the vacancy to a public vote in November’s election.
Instead, the Republican County Committee will have discretion to pick a replacement to fill the one-year unexpired term.
Gabor said she planned to resign in September because of the demands of her new job. But she chose the specific date with the election deadline in mind, she said.
“Politically, it makes more sense. The Republicans won’t have to worry about an election to fill that seat,” Gabor said.
All five members of the freeholder board are Republican.
Republican Party Chairman Marcus Karavan said candidates who file a letter of intent to run will be given a chance to campaign before a vote by the Republican Committee membership at a convention. The timeframe has not been determined, he said.
“We are committed to an open process. We’re not going to hand-pick anyone. We’ll let the committee members make their choice,” he said.
Gabor has served on the freeholder board since winning election in 2011. Previously she served on the Upper Township Committee.
“She worked very hard. She took over departments I had for many years,” Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said. “At the same time, she had a family and her sons and a job. I know how difficult that is.”
Thornton said serving as a freeholder is a time-consuming public service.
“I called her the first day she took office as freeholder and told her, ‘The first thing you have to remember is your family first and your livelihood second because this will absorb your time,’” he said.
Freeholders earn $17,972 per year without benefits. The freeholder director gets an additional $2,000.
Democratic Party Chairman Jeffrey Sutherland declined to comment.
The selection process is similar to the way Democrats filled the vacancy created in 2001 when former Freeholder Jeff Van Drew was elected to the General Assembly, Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti said.
The Republican who takes Gabor’s seat will face re-election in 2017 for the normal three-year freeholder term.