Posted on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009

Twp. Republicans unveil candidates

By Drew Ciccotelli; Correspondent

Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee has unveiled their candidates for this year's township council race.Republicans and select Democrats alike turned out on March 12 at the Freeway Golf Course to see the Republican pick for this year's upcoming council race.

Kept under wraps until Thursday night, the slate includes Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton, incumbent Councilwoman Shelley Lovett, former Councilwoman Maureen McLaughlin, and former Gloucester Township Board of Education member John Custodio.

McLaughlin and Custodio hope to unseat Democratic council members Dan Hutchison and Franklin Schmidt, whose terms are expiring. Newcomer Michelle Gentek is also part of the Democratic ticket.

It was also revealed that former Democratic councilman Eugene Lawrence would run as the Republican candidate in the 4th District assembly race.

Nearly 60 supporters turned out to the event, including party leaders and council members from past and present. Current Democratic Councilwoman Crystal Evans was also in attendance to witness a speech given by Lawrence on the state of affairs.

"We need to break the stranglehold of a government who doesn't care about the people who voted for them," Lawrence said. "It's time for a government that cares about its people, it's time for change, not rhetoric, not promises. We have got to hold people accountable, now we have to make that change and that change begins tonight."

Amid 30 years of one party control, the selected Republican candidates echoed Lawrence's message, a need for change and a need to work together.

"It is my belief that council is out of touch with the town, with its citizens," Custodio said. "I feel that it is our duty to open up the government, create more transparency, a re-establish a government that belongs to the people. Council can't solve all problems, but at least by working together with the mayor we can try to solve some."

Former councilwoman McLaughlin talked about change.

"The people I'm working with love Gloucester Township and want to bring it together to make a difference that's better for the residents," McLaughlin said. "Right now, that's not happening."

Party leaders such as Richard DeMichele, chairman of the Camden County Republican Committee and Ray Polidoro, chairman of the Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee expressed confidence in the candidates.

"We want people to understand that what drives this town is council and what we need is a council that listens and responds to the voters and it is my belief that this ticket will do just that," DeMichele said.

Polidoro spoke of candidates as people with much to offer the residents of the township.

"These folks will bring a lot of experience to council, they represent a cross section of every type of person in this town," Polidoro said. "With these candidates we have somebody who represents us in the present, one that will help us with our future and someone who has represented us well in the past."

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