Witherspoon, Parker Ready for Do-Over in Atlantic County District 3 Race


By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

MAYS LANDING — Democrat Dr. Thelma Witherspoon and Republican Egg Harbor Township Committeeman Andrew Parker III will face off again Nov. 2 for the Atlantic County Commissioner seat — one year after votes were tallied for the first time in the race.

The candidates, caught up in a vortex created by a major balloting error in Atlantic County Clerk Ed McGettigan’s office, was followed by a razor-thin election, court decisions and appeals.

Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Joseph Marczyk ruled that a special election will be held Nov. 2. Witherspoon, a former Atlantic City Board of Education president, was certified the winner of the 2020 race by a narrow margin of 286 votes (15,034-14,748).

But a county clerk error resulted in 338 voters in Hamilton County not receiving their ballots. Parker contested the results leading to a special election. Witherspoon appealed, pointing out that the missing ballots came from an area she won handily, but to no avail.

“I’m the one that reported the problem,” Witherspoon told Front Runner New Jersey this week. “I outperformed him in Hamilton County. To me, this is a form of voter suppression. I beat him once in this race and I can do it again.”

District 3, which covers portions of Egg Harbor Township and Hamilton Township, was represented by Democrat Ashley Bennett. Democrats attempted to appoint Witherspoon to the seat before the special election, but the Republican-led commissioners board refused to seat her.

That became part of a second lawsuit that Witherspoon said is still ongoing.

Parker focused his ire for Democratic County Clerk Ed McGettigan — who is not running for re-election this fall — for the whole mess.

“This is a total vindication of what we have been saying all along,” Parker told Front Runner New Jersey in an email. “My election for county commissioner was entirely unfair because of yet another mistake by county clerk Ed McGettigan: incompetently printing ballots and omitting candidate names.

“I look forward to having a fair election and hope the voters will respond to my message of keeping Atlantic County the best run in the state,” Parker added.

Witherspoon said while she lost her appeal against the special election, it was worth the fight and she is ready for the election do-over.

“I don’t think they thought I would fight,” Witherspoon said. “For me, it’s one thing to think I won, and it’s another thing to have it certified that I won. I’m not going to sit there and watch you take something from me and not do anything.”

With that, the race is on.

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