CNBNEWS.NET: Today could be one of the most important elections Bellmawr has seen in years... And considering the spring Council elections can be mostly insignificant, I assume most residents aren’t paying attention.
To be clear, this article is not about who to vote for, but just to be aware that this is an important election and you should get out to the polls today, especially if you are registered as a Democrat or Unafilliated*). Polls close at 8pm.
The purpose of the June Council primary is for each party to decide “who runs under our party each year for the fall election”. You could say that typically the Council primaries in Bellmawr are non-events. Of the 6 council seats, two are up for election each year… so each seat is for a 3 year term. The Democrat party is the majority in Bellmawr, and as you would expect the Democrats control the mayor and council spots. So each year the two incumbent Council members are put into the Democrat primary with little opposition (or none), and get elected to run as Democrats in the fall election. Even if voter turnout is low, the incumbents still take the primary votes to be the Dem candidates (as they are basically unopposed). Because the town is mostly Democrat, the pattern has been the 2 council people up for election are easily voted back in to office in November.
You can see how this pattern sets the primary election up to be a little apathetic. Voters don’t really turn out. Incumbent council people don’t really have to try too hard to get the Democrat spots.
As an example, in 2010 the Democratic council primary drew 568 votes while the full election in November had 4,600 votes.
Residents simply don’t pay attention to the June Council primaries.
What’s different for this Council Primary?
Just 7 months ago in the November Mayoral election, Donald Bowers ran as an independent and was able to win 1,112 votes. Long time Mayor Frank Filipeck won with 1,545 votes. Yes, Filipeck’s 55% of the vote compared to Bower’s 39% is arguably a commanding win.
But even in a Mayoral election, voter turnout is low. Only 432 votes separated Bowers and Filipeck.
I bring up the prior Mayoral election, because apparently Mr Bowers realized something… You have to be a Democrat to win in Bellmawr. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a part of the core Bellmawr Democrat Party. Just like in 2008 when Democrats in America had to choose Obama as their Presidential candidate… Bowers (and Johnston) have jumped into the Council race as additional Democratic choices in the primary.
Normally the two incumbents this year, D’Angelo and Bollinger, would face a primary election which follows the same pattern as described earlier, and easily win the Democratic slots for the primary.
This year there are choices.. Democrats voters get to pick two from; D’Angelo, Bollinger, Bowers and Johnston.
Back to the Numbers
As I mentioned, last year it took under 300 votes each for the Dem Council primary winners to win. Compare that to Bowers getting over 1100 votes in last year’s mayoral election.
So if Bowers can find a few hundred Democrats to vote for him… he could win the primary and be in a prime spot to win a council seat. 1100 residents voted for him in the Mayoral election... what percentage were Dems is key.
Admittedly, if you’ve done the math you see that last year far fewer voters came out (percentage of November turnout) for the Council primary. But this year Bower’s Independent Democrat party seems to be making a push to let people know he is out there. As I described earlier… normally these primary races are very quiet so anyone driving around with a bullhorn should get some attention.
Could a few hundred Dems in town be awakened today to give Bowers and/or Johnston a vote?
In elections with such small voter turnout, your vote really does count.
While the focus is on the Democrat party, it really is a two-party race within the Democratic Party… just the way primary elections are all over the country, but not something we are accustomed to in Bellmawr.
Some believe things in town are going great. Others believe we need changes.
Your vote today can really impact the future of Bellmawr. Polls are open till 8pm.
*Unaffiliated voters can vote in a party's primary by declaring on the primary day that they are in that party.
Edited: I updated the blog post soon after its original post to clarify comparisons from the Mayoral election.