The major upset of the 2009 non-partisan municipal elections was the defeat of Carl Block, who has served as Mayor of Stafford (pop. 25,819) since 1983. Block lost by fifteen percentage points, 57%-42%, to John McMenamin, a former police lieutenant. Four incumbent Councilmembers allied with Block also lost their bids for re-election.
This is a stunning defeat for Republicans in a town where John McCain beat Barack Obama with 59% of the vote last year. Block is also the Ocean County Clerk, and an insider within the Ocean County GOP organization. McMenamin had the backing of Democrats, who backed GOP gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie’s proposal to ban dual officeholding. Christie attended a fundraiser for Block in Stafford just days after announcing his plan, which would have forced Block to choose between his two jobs.
McMenamin also received help from freshman U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill). Adler now has a Democratic Mayor in a solidly Republican town – something that won’t hurt his chances to win re-election next year.
But the Democratic victory in Stafford was tempered a bit by a Republican sweep in Evesham (pop. 46,711), a town Obama won with 57% in 2008. Winning three Council seats with about 60% of the vote, the GOP will now have a majority on the governing body. Republicans Kurt Croft and Joe Howarth defeated incumbent Michael Schmidt and his running mate, Jill Whipple, and Democratic Councilwoman Alicia Marrone, appointed earlier this year after Chris Brown was elected Freeholder, was ousted by Debbie Hackman.
Republican control of Evesham is not good news for Adler.