In this borough of 7,000 on the Delaware River, where information travels by word-of-mouth and many adults are lifelong residents, this year's mayoral race has consummated a Republican feud.
The rocky relations, however, could translate into more election choices than ever before.
Leather will run as an independent in November, opting not to challenge Marotta in the primary. Councilman John Gural is running unopposed for the Democratic mayoral nomination, and former State Sen. Jack Casey, a Democrat who was not endorsed by his party, is also planning an independent bid.
``It just shows you what has been going on in Palmyra,'' Casey said. ``It is all party politics. Everyone is split.''
A closed-door meeting in January, when Republican Party faithfuls endorsed Marotta over the incumbent, confirmed that the rift was irreparable.
Leather and his Republican majority on the council maintain a working rapport, but the things that marked a friendship are gone, such as wedding invitations and afternoon coffee chats at Lincolns Luncheonette.
What severed the ties? The answer varies, depending on who is asked.
According to Leather, it is all about his opposition to the planned $604 million commuter light-rail line between Camden and Trenton. Every day, 120 trains, two every 20 minutes, would pass through the center of Palmyra, separating the high school from the elementary school and the fire department from the police station.
Leather can pinpoint the moment he split from the others - when he cast a tiebreaking vote during an August 1997 meeting on a resolution to withdraw full council support for the light-rail project.
``I am the type of person who states what is on my mind,'' Leather said in an interview from his mayor's office. ``I did not want 120 trains going through town, plus freight. That is complete insanity.''
The Republican council members say there are loads of reasons why they want Leather out. The railroad project is not one them, they say, although eachs supports it, as does Marotta, as a way to boost the business district and property values.
``It is not a litmus test for endorsement in the party,'' Councilman Joseph Threston, leader of the Palmyra GOP committee, said of the rail project. He mentioned Ken Faulkner, a former Republican assemblyman who opposed light rail.
``We did not take offense to Ken having that opinion,'' Threston said.
Marotta takes umbrage at Leather's suggestion that she was picked merely because of her light-rail connections.
``The reason why I was chosen is because I am qualified to do the job,'' she said. ``I truly believe I have something to contribute.''
Her resume is stacked with public service: 12 years on the Palmyra Board of Education, president of the Bridge Players Theatre Company, member of the borough economic development committee, board member of South Jersey Survivors of Violent Crime.
``In Pat, we see someone who will bring new ideas, a new work ethic, contacts to that post that Bob is not giving us. It is time for a change,'' Council President John Nowicki said. Nowicki told party leaders last year that he would not run on a ticket with Leather this year.
Nowicki, Threston and the two other Republican council members - Joe Ehrenreich and John Weber - withdrew their backing because, they said, Leather did not aggressively pursue grants and made promises he could not keep.
However, Democratic Councilman Gural said the shortage of grant funds has little to do with Leather.
``We have been missing out on grants for a number of reasons. One is we have no professional grant writer,'' said Gural, who supports hiring someone to seek out funding opportunities and draft grant applications.
``It is payback time for Bob snubbing the people of his party,'' Gural said. ``He was kicked out because of his position on light rail.''
Edward Ollivier, a former Republican councilman who supports Leather, concurred: ``Bob Leather votes his conscience and does not toe the party line.''
All four mayoral candidates agree the business district is lagging, but Marotta is the only one who sees light rail as a way to stir foot traffic.
The campaign for mayor is likely to pick up after the primary. At least that is when Leather plans to knock on every door in Palmyra, just as he has in the past.
This year, however, will be different. His $12,000 budget will be pared to about $1,000. Rather than glossy mailers, he will rely on Kinko's copiers. And the trademark Palmyra Republican goody delivered to homes the day before Election Day - coffee packs - will find no place in Leather's campaign.
``I may want to try something new.'' Leather said.