By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
BRIDGETON – African-American representation on the Cumberland County Freeholders board continues to hang in the balance in the Democratic primary as incumbent Jack Surrency calls on the New Jersey attorney general to step in.
Controversy has surrounded the Democratic primary after the county’s Democratic Party opted not to support Surrency for a second term and went with Millville committeeman Bruce Cooper, also African-American. Surrency created his own team to run for the three-seat that included Blacks Donna Pearson and Tracey Wells-Huggins.
In unofficial totals from Tuesday’s election updated Thursday night, party-supported incumbent Carol Musso leads all candidates with 20.74 percent of the vote (5,677 votes). George Castellini, another party-supported incumbent is second with 17.28 percent (4,793 votes).
For the final spot, Pearson (16.81 percent, 4,662 votes), who once served on the freeholder board, held a razor-thin 75-vote lead over Cooper (16.54 percent, 4,587). Wells-Huggins followed with 14.86 percent of the vote (4,121) then Surrency with 3,810 votes (13.74 percent).
Surrency Thursday asked Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to install monitors at the board of elections and conduct a full hand count of all paper ballots.
“I’m calling on Attorney General Grewal to bring the same level of intensity, integrity, and truth to Cumberland County’s election that he brought to Paterson’s just a few weeks ago,” Surrency said in a statement. “The process hasn’t been transparent and the numbers don’t add up.”
Surrency pointed to inconsistencies with Fairfield Township ballots last year using Sequoia AVC Advantage technology as an example for his concerns, among other issues.
“Cumberland County has a recent history of inaccurate ballot counts utilizing technology,” Surrency said. “Therefore, we want monitors to oversee the counting of the remaining 2,000 paper ballots and we want a complete hand count of all paper ballots. Every vote needs to be counted and protected. It’s critical to our form of democracy.”
Whoever emerges from the Democratic primary, will face a tough test from Republican candidates in the general election who did not face a divisive primary. Victoria Lods, Darwin Cooper Jr. and Antonio Romero were uncontested in their primary.
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