Democratic Freeholder Candidates' Statement on Formica/Bertino Unsafe Workplace Report

Celeste Fernandez, Maureen Leidy, & Barbara Butterhof-Rheault, Democratic candidates for Atlantic County Freeholder, released the following statement after a published report about unsafe working conditions at Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica's business, of which Freeholder Jim Bertino is the plant manager:

"The claim by Formica, that somehow the victims of unsafe workplace conditions were directly responsible for the amputation of their limbs, is heartless and irresponsible. Employers have a duty and obligation to provide a safe work environment. Ultimately Mr. Formica and Jim Bertino, as Plant Manager, are responsible for ensuring worker safety - and in these two cases they failed. The amputation of a limb isn't something that a quick trip to UrgentCare or workman's comp makes right. I hope that the injured receive restitution befitting the losses that they suffered."

Atlantic County Democrats Stand In Favor of Sexual Assault Transparency Ordinance

Freeholder-At-Large Caren Fitzpatrick has introduced a proposed ordinance that will give the survivor of sexual harassment and assault the option to forgo the signing of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) during any part of the investigation, settlement, or litigation process. The proposed ordinance has been referred to the County Code Review Committee.

“We want to create NDA policies that affirm survivors’ choices,” said Freeholder Fitzpatrick. “This ordinance will do just that.”

The Atlantic County Democratic Committee believes that Freeholder Fitzpatrick’s proposed ordinance allows for increased transparency for the taxpayers and citizens of Atlantic County. These NDAs are not only a barrier to eliminating sexual assault, but also stifle the public and survivor’s knowledge of these heinous actions. Empowering the survivor, and allowing them to claim back power that was taken from them if they so choose, ensures that perpetrators of sexual harassment are not allowed to hide behind NDAs and potentially commit such acts again. The people of Atlantic County should be holding their elected representatives to the highest of standards, and this is one simple way to do just that. 

The Atlantic County Democrats are also proud to endorse Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato in their legislation, A-3608, which bars the use of campaign funds and NDAs from being used to settle sexual assault and harassment claims levied against state officials and other employees. We believe that these two acts will decrease the likelihood of sexual assault and harassment while also preventing taxpayer dollars from being used to hide these shameful and reprehensible acts from the public.


Suleiman Calls on Atlantic GOP to Denounce Grossman

(Absecon) Today, Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman is calling on the Atlantic County Republicans, specifically incumbent Republican Freeholders Frank Formica, Maureen Kern, and James Bertino, who are seeking re-election, to denounce Republican congressional candidate Seth Grossman for his hateful comments.


"You would think that the Atlantic County Republicans learned their lesson after Freeholder John Carman, but unfortunately they never cease to amaze me," said Suleiman. "While some prominent Republicans have denounced Mr. Grossman's stupid comments, there's radio silence from the Republicans on the Freeholder Board. Are they more concerned with winning than doing the right thing?


Grossman has doubled- and tripled-down on his comments that diversity is "a bunch of crap and un-American." While the Chairman of the Republican State Committee and former Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno have both denounced Grossman, Formica, Kern, and Bertino have failed to do so. Even after Grossman's vile comments, the Atlantic County Republicans posted on social media that they are "strong and unified behind" their ticket.

Atlantic Democrats Announce Freeholder Candidates

(MARGATE) Today, three Democrats announced their candidacies for Atlantic County Freeholder.

Celeste Fernandez will run for Atlantic County Freeholder-at-Large. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Celeste came to this country with nothing but work ethic and the drive to succeed. Now, Celeste is a U.S. citizen and the owner of her own insurance business in Pleasantville, Fernandez Services LLC. She is an actively involved in advocating for Pleasantville’s Main Street business community and helps newly-naturalized citizens become acclimated in the Atlantic County community. She lives in Egg Harbor Township and is a proud grandmother.

Maureen Leidy will run for District 2 Freeholder, which is mostly made up of the downbeach communities of Chelsea, Chelsea Heights, Ventnor, Margate, and Longport as well as the mainland communities of Northfield, Linwood, and Somers Point. A former domestic violence counselor, Maureen has a long history of working in the nonprofit sector, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation. She currently works in the administrative offices of the Inspira Health Network and lives in Ventnor.

Barbara Butterhof-Rheault will run for District 5 Freeholder, which is the western end of Atlantic County, including Hammonton, Buena Vista Township, Mullica Township, Egg Harbor City, and roughly half of Hamilton Township. Barbara is a STEM teacher in the Mullica Township School District and leads the Mullica Township Education Association. Barbara is also a Mullica Township Committeewoman, where she serves as the Director of Public Safety. During her time on Township Committee, Barbara has fought to maintain services and hold the line on tax increases.

“The people of Atlantic County want public servants who will roll up their sleeves and make Atlantic County a better place to live and work,” said Fernandez, Leidy, and Butterhof-Rheault. “As Freeholders, we’ll work to increase educational and employment opportunities for our residents as well as make Atlantic County a more affordable place to live for middle-class families and seniors.”

Fernandez, Leidy, and Butterhof-Rheault will seek the endorsement of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee at its nominating convention this Sunday, March 18. Any members of the media wishing to attend the convention must RSVP by emailing

InsiderNJ Op-ed: Turning the Trump Presidency to Greater Democratic Advantage

When I was elected Chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee in the summer of 2016, I spent the next few weeks and months meeting with fellow chairs, community activists, and volunteers from across the state to gather ideas on how to reinvigorate the Democratic Party in Atlantic County, a county where we have historically performed well in presidential years but have gotten clobbered in the off-years. My goal was to get us in a position to hit the ground running for the 2017 elections, which would see much lower turnout for us than the presidential election.

My meetings and discussions yielded two common threads for a successful organization: candidate recruitment coupled with strengthening local Democratic clubs. Fortunately, timing was on our side, for after the election of President Trump many people wanted to get involved in politics and even run for office.

Capitalizing on the groundswell of activism, we decided to publicly advertise for candidates for elected office, something we’ve never done but has proven quite successful in other counties. It turned into a very labor-intensive process, with our team spending long hours poring over resumes and interviewing candidates. However, our efforts were well worth it. We were able to recruit top-notch, quality candidates to run for office. Our efforts produced two new Freeholders and a new Sheriff, as well as playing a small role in electing a new Assemblyman. Locally, Democrats took control of Absecon and Atlantic City as well as achieved upsets in Northfield and Galloway Township. While having Governor-elect Murphy on the ballot undoubtedly helped us, our candidates outperformed the top of the ticket in many of our precincts, exemplifying the results that can be had when great candidates localize elections.

Recognizing that growth starts from the bottom-up, we doubled-down on our efforts to support our local Democratic organizations, recruiting about 5 new municipal chairs over the past year and a half and instituting a municipal chairs training program to educate municipal leaders on best practices as well as how we can help them grow. We’ve also been much more active in municipal races, providing local clubs and candidates with financial and logistical assistance to achieve victory. Just in the way that Howard Dean pioneered a 50-state strategy, we firmly believe that our long-term growth relies on a 23-town strategy.

Let’s not kid ourselves: the Democratic Party in Atlantic County has a long way to go. Republicans still control county government and a majority of municipalities. However, the takeaways from our story are twofold. First, if the Democratic Party can be revived in Atlantic County, it can happen anywhere. When we localize elections and recruit great candidates, our message can resonate with the broader electorate. Second, the strategies that we’ve implemented in Atlantic County are nothing new. They were passed on to me by brilliant women and men who know how to win elections and get people involved. As the Democratic Party begins to rebuild all across the country, we shouldn’t overthink things. Quality candidate recruitment and local organizing are two straightforward ways that we as Democrats can survive and thrive during the Trump presidency and beyond.

Michael Suleiman is the Chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee.

Maria's Women United Announces Candidate Endorsements

Maria’s Women United endorses 20 candidates for the upcoming 2017 election

Maria’s Women United proudly announces the endorsement of the following female candidates running for office in the November general election:

  • Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Fifth Legislative District
  • Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Fourth Legislative District
  • Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones, Fifth Legislative District
  • Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Sixth Legislative District
  • Carol Murphy, Candidate for Assembly in the Seventh Legislative District
  • Maryann Merlino, Candidate for Assembly in the Eighth Legislative District
  • Joann Schwartz, Candidate for Assembly in the Eighth Legislative District
  • Assemblywoman Joann Downey, 11th Legislative District
  • Laura Poppe, Candidate for Assembly in the 16th Legislative District
  • Lacey Rzeszowski, Candidate for Assembly in the 21st Legislative District
  • Freeholder Carol Musso, Cumberland County
  • Surrogate Helene Reed, Gloucester County
  • Freeholder Heather Simmons, Gloucester County
  • Dr. Thelma Witherspoon, Atlantic County Freeholder Candidate
  • Caren Fitzpatrick, Atlantic County Freeholder Candidate
  • Ashley Bennett, Atlantic County Freeholder Candidate
  • Danielle Davis, Cape May County Freeholder Candidate
  • Gina Marie Santore, Woolwhich Council Candidate
  • Stephanie Madden, Haddon Heights Council Candidate
  • Angela Bardoe, Pittsgrove Council Candidate

“The mission of Maria’s Women United has always been to support female candidates in the lower seven counties and those who value South Jersey, at all levels of government, building a bench of strong Democratic women. These women embody the spirit and legacy of Maria Barnaby Greenwald, a trailblazer for women throughout our region. Our board is proud to support these women and invest over $21,000 in their respective races,” said Amy Swan, Chair of Maria’s Women United. “We strongly urge all New Jerseyans to come out and vote on November 7th for these highly qualified candidates up and down the ballot.”
Maria’s Women United is dedicated to preserving and fostering the Maria Barnaby Greenwald legacy of uniting, promoting, mentoring and empowering Democratic women of South Jersey
and those who support the region. Maria’s impact on the political landscape of our state was a lasting one, breaking down barriers and extending a hand to others who needed it. It is our goal to honor her commitment to limitless achievements and possibility for all women.
The following is a list of members of the board of Maria’s Women United:
Amy Swan, Chair; Melissa Pollitt, Vice Chair; Donna Marie Robinson Taylor, Treasurer; Leana Crowther, Secretary; Beth Schroeder-Buonsante, Mary Cruz, Alexis Degan, Karin Elkis, Stephanie Fisher, Karen Kominsky, Jeannie LaRue, Jennifer Lehman, Tricia Mueller, Allison Murphy, Jessica Stewart and Jennifer Taylor.

Democrats Condemn Carman's Embrace of Confederate Flag

(Egg Harbor Township) Today, the Atlantic County Democrats condemned Freeholder John Carman’s embrace of the Confederate flag. In various pictures on Facebook over the years, including one from just last month, Carman is shown wearing a Confederate flag patch on his vest.

“The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and bigotry, pure and simple. For many of our friends in the African-American community, the sight of it puts knots in their stomachs," said Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman. “After posting misogynist memes on Facebook in the winter, I thought I’d seen it all, but Freeholder Carman never ceases to amaze me.”

Race historian and Brown University professor Matthew Guterl once said in an interview, "Wearing the flag or celebrating it, putting it on your car window or coffee table in your house, it's a reminder to everyone, to every guest, to every person who sees it, black or white, that you are a stakeholder in the Confederate history of the South, and therefore the defense of slavery and racial prejudice. No one is immune to this."

This isn't the first time John Carman has gotten himself in trouble. In January, he posted two misogynist memes on Facebook the day of the Women's March in Washington and then waited four days to offer a tepid apology.

Senator-select Colin Bell Endorsed by The Sierra Club of New Jersey

Senator-select Colin Bell has been officially endorsed by the Sierra Club of New Jersey in his bid for State Senate in New Jersey's 2nd Legislative District.

Bell has pledged to continue former Senator Jim Whelan's suburb environmental record in the Senate.

"I want to thank the Sierra Club of New Jersey for their support," said Bell. "As Atlantic County's senator, I am committed to moving our community forward. Protecting our shore and open spaces for generations to come is necessary to not only preserve what keeps Atlantic County special, but to also strengthen our economy that relies on it. I am so appreciative of the Sierra Club for their support and look forward to working with them to stand up for Atlantic County."

Senator-select Bell is running against Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown who has dismal environmental voting record. The most recent Clean Water Action's legislative scorecard, released today, gave Brown a 46%. 

For 125 years the Sierra Club has worked to preserve and protect wilderness in America, originally in Western States. The New Jersey Chapter was founded in 1971, playing an important role in preventing the damming of the Delaware River above the Water Gap, limiting the burning of municipal waste in incinerators, retiring our coal-burning power plants, and obtaining federal Wild & Scenic protection for five river segments in New Jersey, including two in the 2nd Legislative District.

Fitzpatrick Calls for Creation of Animal Shelter Oversight Committee

Atlantic County Freeholder candidate Caren Fitzpatrick today called for the creation of the Animal Shelter Oversight Committee, which culminates after a history of controversies at the Atlantic County Animal Shelter in Pleasantville this year.

"More transparency is always a good thing," said Caren Fitzpatrick. "The best way to restore confidence in the operation of the Animal Shelter is to give staff, volunteers, and the public a greater say in how the Shelter is operated."

Fitzpatrick noted that the proposed Animal Shelter Oversight Committee would be made up of county administration, Shelter staff and volunteers, and members of the public who would review current Animal Shelter policies and procedures, make recommendations on best practices based on other facilities in the industry to make the Shelter more efficient, and investigate any issues that are brought to the Committee’s attention by the public or Shelter volunteers.

"Government works best when we start talking with each other," said Fitzpatrick. "The time has come to get the county, Shelter volunteers, and members of the public at the same table and have a conversation on how to improve the Shelter. The animals cared for at the Shelter, and the citizens of Atlantic County who ultimately adopt some of these animals, deserve nothing less.”

Atlantic Democratic Candidates Endorsed by Democrats 2000

Democrats 2000, the premier young Democrat fundraising organization in New Jersey, today has announced its endorsement of 48 young Democrats under the age of 40 running for public office across New Jersey.

“We are proud to announce the endorsement of 48 amazing young Democratic candidates who we know will bring good government and fresh new ideas to public service in legislative districts, counties, and municipalities across New Jersey,” said Jon Chebra and Matt Bonasia, co-presidents of Democrats 2000. “For the past two decades, Democrats 2000 has been raising money to help young candidates punch through the competition and reach the voters of New Jersey, and we look forward to supporting our endorsed candidates this year and celebrating their successes on November 7th.”

Democrats 2000 has endorsed the following candidates for election on November 7, 2017:

Colin Bell – State Senate, LD 2

Bob Andrzejczak – Assembly, LD 1

Ryan Young – Assembly, LD 9

Ashley Bennett – Freeholder District 3, Atlantic County

Jeffree Fauntleroy, II – Council-at-Large, Atlantic City

Walead Abdrabouh – Council, Galloway

Frank J. Santo, Jr – Council, Galloway

Leanna Mullen – Committee, Mullica Township