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CMCo Dems Choose First Female Party Chair

Marie Blistan
Provided

Marie Blistan

By Christopher South

COURT HOUSE – Members of the Cape May County Democratic Committee voted Jan. 9 to elect Marie Blistan, who apparently is the first woman to lead the committee.
“Blistan is the first woman in memory to be elected chair of the Cape May County Democratic Committee, where she will use her political and civic contacts to improve the organization and the county,” wrote Cynthia Burton, committee spokesperson.
Blistan was chosen to replace attorney Daniel Kurkowski, who stepped down as chairman after he accepted an appointment as a Superior Court judge in December 2022.
Blistan retired to her home in Wildwood Crest in 2021. She became active in the county Democratic committee and was named Wildwood Crest Democratic Committee leader. She serves on the Citizens and Veterans Advisory Committee (CVAC) and is a member of the Cape May County NAACP.
Before her retirement, Blistan served as an elected officer of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), representing over 200,000 public school employees for a dozen years as secretary-treasurer, vice president, and president.
She started a teaching career in Somerdale Public Schools, in Camden County, before teaching in Washington Township, Gloucester County.
She became president of the Gloucester County Education Association and was very involved in NJEA activities.
She served on Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition team and has strong relationships in New Jersey government and politics, Burton said.
Burton cited an extensive list of Blistan’s involvement in union activities, including working to increase the minimum wage and make health care affordable.
“I am honored to continue the work that Chair Kurkowski led that has strengthened the foundation for Cape May Democrats,” Blistan said through Burton. “I am excited to work with my fellow committee leaders and members as well as my fellow Democratic chairs to support a diverse pool of Democratic candidates into elected positions with the upcoming elections.”
Speaking from her home the day after the election, Blistan said she was excited at the opportunity to lead the party in Cape May County.
She and her husband first bought a home in Cape May County in 2015, but her mother was born and raised in Wildwood. She said that her position as a teacher and involvement with the teachers’ union led her to become involved in politics.
“Public education is public, and it led me to get very involved in politics across the state,” she said.
Blistan said she was appointed to fill a seat in Wildwood Crest. Eventually, Kurkowski asked her to fill the municipal chair position. Then, after Kurkowski could no longer be the county chair of a political party and be a Superior Court judge, she thought she might be able to carry on the work he has done.
“I thought about what we could and should do and continue to do,” Blistan said. 
Blistan said she is very proud and pleased that the Democratic Party promotes equity and that it is included in the platform of the party – and that it is a party that is working to address “bread and butter issues.”
She said the mission of the party now is to get Democrats elected to municipal, county, state and national level positions and to provide a diverse pool of candidates.
She understands it is an uphill battle in a county where the Democrats are not the majority, but that doesn’t prevent Democrats being elected in partisan or nonpartisan towns.
She said that Democrats once holding these positions is testament to the fact that democracy is working.
“We are going to keep moving forward. The party is a great group of people, and I am honored to be leading them,” Blistan said.
Blistan denied published reports that she is thinking of running for political office. One news report claimed she is considering challenging state Sen. Michael Testa (R-1st), which she denied.
Thoughts? Questions? Contact the reporter, Christopher South, at 609-886-8600, ext. 128 or csouth@cmcherald.com.

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