Incumbent Mayor Frank Filipek has won the hotly contested Bellmawr Mayoral race, which will extend his time as town leader to 18 consecutive years.
Filipek and his family ran a very clean campaign, focusing on his many years of service and achievements in the community, which started long before the beginning of his Mayoral run in 2000.
This year brought several challengers to the race, and along with that came a lot more election information, signs, and mailers.
With the much larger marketing push, almost 300 more residents came out to vote than they did in last election. 3,055 in 2014, versus 2,792 in 2010.
But there was a message in this year's campaign, for both Filipek and his challengers.
2014 Mayoral Election Results
|NON - Frank R. FILIPEK||1,132||37.05%|
|NON - Paul DE ANGELIS||933||30.54%|
|NON - Bill GROFF||670||21.93%|
|NON - Leonard LANDI||310||10.15%|
In 2010, with only one challenger, Frank Filipek was able to pull in 55% of the vote, and this year it dropped to 37.5% Granted, the incumbent mayor had at least 3 teams of candidates working against him so he had a tough battle. In the end 413 voters switched from Filipek in 2010 to another candidate in 2014, a 27% drop.
On the challenger side, it was clear from the start that with three official challengers it was going to be tough for Filipek to lose this election. In any election its about getting out the incumbent, and knowing that the Mayor would hold on to a significant portion of his prior voters, the new challengers would be left to split the "time for change" voters.
Paul Deangelis came in 2nd place by just 200 votes, which really is impressive, again considering all of the Independent competition.
Bill Groff made a huge marketing push with innovative mailers, a published platform on his website... simply trying to get the message out, but landed in third.
I am a software developer, and I fully appreciate the value of an internet presence, marketing and definitely communicating to the public... and I admit I am slightly surprised by Deangelis strong showing in that I think Paul would admit he had a quieter approach of "Talk to me and I'll tell you how I can make things better"
Two key factors for first and second:
- Filipek; Well known in the Democrat club and a strong hold on the west side of town and the mail-in votes.
- Deangelis; Well known in the Democrat club and a strong hold on the east side of town.
In fact, in the 7 polling districts of Bellmawr, Deangelis actually won more districts than Filipek, with Filipek balancing the score with the mail-in votes.
Other interesting things "in the numbers".
In the Bellmawr Park district, Filipek took first and Deangelis was second. No surprises there.
But in Crescent Park which is Frank's home turf and has 2 districts voting at the Larc School, Filipek took the majority of the votes (as expected), but surprisingly the overall second place finisher Deangelis... was actually third in Crescent Park voting!
Lastly, Filipek also won the mail-in votes. Now I admit I am making an assumption, but I wonder if the largest portion of the mail-in votes are Seniors who find it difficult to travel, and its no secret that Filipek has positioned himself as a friend of the Senior community.
Clearly it was Bellmawr Park, Crescent Park and mail-in (senior?) voters that won the election for Filipek.
I had mentioned on a friends Facebook discussion about the election that it seemed the tipping point was an East/West thing... but what I really mean is, on the east side of town I don't think Deangelis is as widely known. In my 47 years on Chalmers and Union, I never considered taking my car to his business.. just that no one ever said "Hey you should try Deangelis' place".
So I wonder if a stronger online and marketing presence would have helped sway more voters who weren't as familiar with him as its clear the numbers show that those on the "Park" side who wanted a change, took their votes to Groff with his clearer message.
Four years ago adults really weren't using Facebook and smartphones. Things are changing fast, and people want information and they want it now... and this will continue to have a growing impact on future elections and even elected officials.
I wish Mayor Filipek a lot of luck, and I hope this term brings major development to the landfill project... it really has been his baby and maybe... just maybe.. its one of the big reasons he decided to run again, as the chance to see the project through may be alive again.