Despite a well-orchestrated smear campaign, a relative newcomer to Camden County politics won an easy victory in the second district commissioner's race, ousting a 12-year veteran office holder.
Cliff Luber came from behind early on in Tuesday night's August Primary election to unseat Thom Gumm. As the early precincts started coming in, Luber moved ahead and maintained a significant lead. When the final vote was tallied, Luber took the second district seat with a 14% lead over Gumm.
Don Barrett, Floyd Lively and Alan Parker, who also ran for the seat on the Republican ticket, lagged behind Luber and Gumm. The final vote was Luber with 40% of the vote or 2,095 votes. Gumm garnered 1,423 votes or 30% of the ballots cast. Barrett received 406 votes; Lively had 278 with Parker coming in with 540 votes.
Gumm has served as the second district commissioner in Camden County for 12 years. With his defeat, Gumm will step down at the end of the year.
Luber was considered to be the underdog in the race after being targeted by an anonymous smear campaign. Luber stepped forward late last week challenging whoever was spearheading the anonymous campaign to take responsibility and openly debate the issues.
To Luber, his win sends a clear message to the anonymous author that "evil, cowardly politics" have no place in Camden County.
Luber recently called this primary election "one of Camden County's most important elections ever." On Tuesday night, Luber said the results will have an affect on Camden County as we know it.
"I'm very humbled and grateful for the support from the folks in the community. I will do the very best job to serve the community," Luber said shortly after hearing about his surprise victory. Luber asks residents to keep him grounded and in touch with the community since this election was all about 'we the people.' I am humbled by the margin." He also said that the results show that people want to see responsibility and transparency in local government.
Luber has two priorities at the top of his list as the new associate commissioner. He, first, wants to keep Planning and Zoning responsible and wants to make sure it does not infringe on personal property rights. Luber feels that Camden County needs full time jobs for year round residents. "Full time citizens must have full time employment," he said.
Luber will take office at the beginning of 2013 and serve with Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. Luber and Franken had, at one time, been political allies but Luber said the two no longer share common viewpoints.
Second District Commissioner Beverly Thomas ran unopposed in the primary but will face challenger Tom Pedrola in November. Pedrola is running as an Independent.