Mayor Bea Cerkez, Deputy Mayor Kenneth Barnshaw and council member Val Stuhltrager are being challenged by Joseph F. Julia Jr., MaryBeth Connelly
Monroe and Walter "Butch" Berglund.
Development is at the forefront of all their minds.
"We're not against development," said Berglund. "We're against the reckless building and what looks like the spot zoning that's been going on around the mall."
A new Home Depot on Route 41 just received Planning Board approval. A Wal- Mart that would replace a health club catty-corner to the Home Depot site is rumored to be in the works.
The council voted to rezone the area where Wal-Mart would be from office campus to retail zoning last month. That move has sparked a wave of resident revolt.
"You look at the Pathmark shopping center or the DMV (strip mall)," said
Monroe. "We're not against Wal-Mart, but why can't they use some of the open space there?
"(Residents along 41) fought for office campus. And this council changed the zoning on a whim. We're not Cherry Hill. We don't want to be Cherry Hill."
Barnshaw counters that the Route 41 development is well thought-out and an improvement to the town.
"In that vicinity you have two factories laying vacant with weeds growing all around them," Barnshaw said. "You have a ghost-town effect of industry. That's the Philadelphia effect, because of cheaper costs overseas. Although those sites are paying taxes, the land use is not in line with our vision from six years ago."
Julia, a driver for the Philadelphia Daily News, said he brings a perspective the current council doesn't have - once laid off after 17 years at a local security firm, he says he fears he may again face unemployment in possible cutbacks at the paper. That reality, he says, gives him a view removed from the go-go attitude that focusing on the mall complex develops.
"We have a lot of Navy Yard guys in town who just lost their jobs," said Julia. "I know how they feel."
Wisdom and its relationship to age, say the candidates, is relative.
Among the three incumbent Republicans, Barnshaw is the youngest at 44 - seven years older than the oldest of the three Democrats running against him. Both sides, predictably, claim their relative youth or age as an advantage.
"I think that's what's going to win this election for us," said Berglund, 31. "It's the home run in our corner. We all have great ideas. We're interested in the schools. We have a future in the town."
"I was a young candidate one time," said Barnshaw. "I lost.
"The people I was running against were more seasoned. Bea and Val have contacts with people all over town in their 50s and 60s, and I have a lot of contacts with my generation. This administration is in contact with every organization in town."
How much age reveals, it has been said, is measured by how much age is revealed, and there Cerkez scored the only real coup - in her 50s, the mayor did not provide her birthday to the county board of elections.
A board clerk said that was not against any rule. "If they've (been on file several years), they didn't have to provide their birthdays."