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In West Cape May, Three Candidates Faced Voters for the First Time

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Three candidates faced voters for the first time, Nov. 7, as they vied for two seats on the West Cape May Board of Commissioners.

By Vince Conti

WEST CAPE MAY – Two sitting members of the West Cape May governing body and one outsider vied for two seats in the Nov. 7 election. What made it unusual was that none of them had ever faced the voters for a spot on the commission.

In September 2022, Commissioner Peter Burke resigned his seat and Alan Crawford, a member of the borough’s Environmental Commission, was appointed to replace him. Crawford decided to stand for election by the voters this November.

Just a few months after Burke resigned, Commissioner Daniel Kurkowski stepped down, creating another vacancy on the three-person commission. This past January George Dick was appointed to the seat, and he also decided to appear before the voters on the ballot.

Borough resident Giacomo “Jack” Antonicello was the third candidate for a commission seat.

When the voters had their say, Antonicello was the top vote-getter, with 40% of the votes cast. Dick held onto his seat with 36% of the votes. Crawford, who had been serving as deputy mayor, lost his seat on the commission, having received 22% of the votes.

Antonicello is a retired fire captain from Jersey City. His wife, Jennifer, is a high school English teacher at Wildwood Catholic. He holds a B.S. from John Jay College in New York.

He said his goal as a commissioner is to “retain our image and reputation as the quaint and quirky community it was once.”

Dick holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Haverford College and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. He has been a volunteer at the Cape May Food Closet and the Nature Conservancy. He served as an unelected West Cape May commissioner for 11 months, making him the second most experienced member of the governing body next to Mayor Carol Sabo.

Concern over West Cape May’s 2021 ordinance supporting retail cannabis sales was an issue this year, as the first retail shop in the county opened on Sunset Boulevard. At one commission meeting, Antonicello used the public comment period to propose that the owners pay the cost of a police officer on duty at the location during all business hours.

In 2022 some borough residents began a petition drive to so restrict the location of retail cannabis businesses that they would effectively be barred from the borough; the borough countered with an action in Superior Court.

The petition effort died when issues related to state statutes presented added complications. Yet the animosities felt by some residents to the borough’s welcoming of cannabis businesses and the way in which the borough handled the petitioners remains.

Speaking of the borough’s response to the petition drive, one resident who wrote a letter to the Herald in May said, “This experience has tested the confidence of West Cape May’s registered voters and left us wondering if our local government is working in the best interest of the residents.”

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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