Veteran activist to take over Burlco Dems while Fifis waits in the wings

Burlington County Democratic Vice-Chair Alice Furia, a long time activist who has watched eight chairmen come and go, will lead the party temporarily starting next month.

Furia will take over for Chairman Rick Perr, whose resignation over his involvement in the controversial New Frontier PAC will take effect at the beginning of September. Furia’s term ends in June, 2010 although an election for a permanent chair may be called some time between then and the 2009 November election.

Furia, who at 74 has been involved in the party for 35 years – 20 of them as vice-chair — has no plans to run for a full term. She has served in the acting chair position three times before – most recently before Perr took over for former chairman Gary Karr.

“This is for the young people to get in there and work their butts off. I just want to now bring to the party some order,” she said.

The leading contender and is Chris Fifis, a former assembly and freeholder candidate who co-owns Ponzio’s Diner in Cherry Hill.

In a phone conversation yesterday, Fifis, who is the clear favorite of party leaders to succeed Furia, did not want to address his potential candidacy.

“Right now I believe that the party is full behind Alice as our acting chair. She’s been our bedrock and our foundation thus far… everyone needs to fall in line and follow her leadership,” he said.

Mount Laurel Councilwoman Tracy Riley, an attorney who ran with Fifis for assembly in 2007, has expressed interest in running, according to one source. But Riley had a falling out with party leaders earlier this year over her representation of an illegal immigrant who was involved in a fatal car accident, which led her to resign her county committee seat.

Veteran activist to take over Burlco Dems while Fifis waits in the wings