GOP's 25-year grip ends in Burlco Democrats Chris Brown and Mary Anne Reinhart won election to the five-member Board of Freeholders.

Posted: November 05, 2008

The Republican Party's 25-year run of holding every seat on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders ended yesterday.

Democrats Chris Brown, deputy mayor of Evesham, and Mary Anne Reinhart, a Shamong committeewoman, won election to the five-member board. It was the latest prize for a political minority that has made inroads at the municipal level for several years and won the county Surrogate's Office in 2006.

Brown and Reinhart defeated Aubrey Fenton, a pastor from Willingboro who was running for a second term, and Stacey Jordan, a businesswoman from Moorestown who was appointed by her party in January to fill the seat of a departing freeholder.

"It's a great win for Burlington County Democrats and it's a great win for the citizens of Burlington County," said Rick Perr, chairman of the Burlington County Democratic Committee.

Democrat Tim Tyler of Fieldsboro defeated Republican Gary Woodend of Medford Lakes for the County Clerk's Office.

The top freeholder campaign issues this year: Taxes, spending and ethics reform.

Jordan and Fenton ran on their record of cutting the tax levy and the tax rate this year. Brown and Reinhart pledged to cut spending by $30 million, increase government transparency, and establish an inspector general's office to root out waste and corruption.

Saying "this would be their year" has been an annual exercise for the Burlington County Democrats. But this time, buoyed by a mood favoring Democrats at the national level, the party's voter registration in the county surged past the GOP this year by more than 26,000.

Republicans said the strong run by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president affected races farther down the ballot.

"We can only control what we're able to and that was taxes at the county level," Jordan said. "I think we did a damn good job with that, and we weren't able to stem the Obama tide."

Fenton congratulated the Democrats and said he would miss the dialogue he had had with county residents, adding, "We have a county that's in great shape and they're inheriting a county that's in great shape."

At the municipal level, Republicans fared well in several key races.

Republicans Jim Keenan, Linda Bobo and Chris Smith won election in Mount Laurel, allowing the GOP to retain its 4-1 control of the Township Council.

"We're actually amazed," said Keenan, who was appointed to council last year. "The rest of the Republicans, it looks like they're not going to win . . . And us winning shows that the Mount Laurel residents were actually understanding that we're hard workers and committed to Mount Laurel."

Republicans won back control of Moorestown after losing it four years ago. With the election of Greg Gallo, John Button and Michael Testa, the party now controls the Township Council 4-1.

Said Button: "We view this as a kind of validation that the citizens of Moorestown are looking to resolve some of the big issues that are ahead of us all that I feel our business backgrounds can address more effectively."

Contact staff writer Maya Rao at 856-779-3220 or mrao@phillynews.com.

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