William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews
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GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (August 30, 2021)--This November's election in Gloucester City will have three different groups offering candidates for the positions on a council that is open. When Mayor Dan Spencer resigned suddenly in April he still had a year and a half left on his four-year term. His resignation set up the following chain of events. Democrat Councilman at large Pat Keating stepped down from his position and was appointed to the mayor's seat until this November's election. The fact that there were two unexpected openings on the council seems to have enticed two former mayors with different philosophies thinking about getting back in the arena, not as candidates but as statesmen/advisors. The third group is the incumbent democrats.
Those two mayors are Bob Bevan, who was elected in the 80s to two terms as an independent, and CHUCK Billingham, who was elected in the mid-90s as a democrat.
Former Gloucester City Mayor Robert Bevan's candidate for Pat Keating's council at large seat is Sarah O'Brien, she is very involved in a youth program called Community Rocks, which teaches art and music to kids, according to Bevan.
Bevan had hoped to have a candidate to run for Spencer's unexpired term but was unable to find anyone interested. "We had short notice, the deadline for us to gather names on the nomination petition was today, August 30 by 4 PM. That seat along with Keating's at large position will be up for re-election next November. Hopefully, we can get more people interested in running for office by then."
We will talk with Bevan about why he got back into the political arena later this week. We will also have more information about Sarah O'Brien at that time.
Billingham, announced today that he is forming his own Democratic Party in Gloucester City, and is backing Dayl Baile for mayor, who is presently a councilman, and incumbent councilman George Berglund along with newcomer Robbie Page for Keating's at large council seat. Billingham said he has resigned from the Gloucester City Democrat Club and is just organizing this new group. He emphasized he was not going to run for any position on council or any other body.
"I don't want to do anything in a vacuum or behind closed doors from now on everything will be in the open. The people I spoke to so far agreed to that open-door policy. I have the blessing of Jim Beach, the chairman of the Camden County Democrat organization and also the state Democratic organization to proceed with the re-organization of the Gloucester City Democrat Party.
"In the future, I like to see incumbents earn the right to run for re-election. Under the present system, an incumbent can stay in office as long as he wants even if he isn't doing his job. Asked who else is involved in this change Billingham said, "Presently it is just an Ad-hoc group of non-political people who agree with me that our city is going in the wrong direction."
Asked who was in charge of the present Democrat Party Billingham said, "My son Michael is the head of those people, and there is a bit of a private disagreement between us. I have no intention of running for office. I am just an advisor."
What made you decide to start this movement?
"I been out of politics since 2015, but in recent months I met with the present members of the Party and I wasn't hearing anything different coming from their mouths. I just got my tax bill and I saw how high it was this year, I just had to do something. I also have been reading your Peyton and Me Meandering columns and I see the quality of life problems I just didn't like. "
"Robbie Page has an incredible educational background in finance. He has the backing of the Camden County Democrats. Rob will be out knocking on doors meeting everyone he can between now and November 2. Dale Baile is running for mayor. He is a businessman who has been involved in civic activities for many years. He is going to make a great mayor," said Billingham.
"Lastly, I like to make it clear I don't approve of personal attacks on candidates. I will disagree with someone's policies but it upsets me when the Party or the local Democrats bash someone personally. Character assassination should not be part of a campaign. I tried for six months to influence those running the local organization to my way of thinking. But, they disagreed with me and forced me to take this action."
Once we know the names of the candidates the regular Democrats are nominating we will publish that information.