Our stories make a difference because we try to shed new light on stories with angles most don't get to see. To receive my articles directly via email, please subscribe. Like what you're reading? Please share FRNJ Extra with your friends!
By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – After essentially two years of campaigning, two elections and litigation that extended to the New Jersey Court of Appeals, Andrew Parker III gets to finally sit on the Atlantic County Board of Commissioners representing District 3.
In defeating Thelma Witherspoon in the court-ordered November general election, Parker was able to flip the seat politically for the Republicans, which was previously held by Democrat Ashley Bennett.
A local Atlantic City educator, Parker had already made history in 2018 when he became the first Black to win a seat on the Egg Harbor Township Committee. In 2000, he ran for the county's District 3 seat that covers portions of Egg Harbor Township and Hamilton Township, against Witherspoon, who was endorsed by Bennett.
November's election, where Parker this time won 56.6% of the vote, was the culmination of a long process, when Witherspoon was certified the winner of a razor-thin victory in November 2020, only to have a county judge order a do-over because of hundreds of mail-in ballots were that were not sent to voters, easily within the victory margin.
Witherspoon in the Democratic Party fought the judge's decision in court, but the new election was allowed to stand.
"Campaigning for two years and court hearings were costly and time-consuming," Parker told Front Runner New Jersey.com. "The voters showed up and overwhelmingly showed their sentiment on whom they believe is the proper commissioner of the third district. It feels great. I am humbled that this time around the voters did not make it a close race."
Parker said the margin of victory in November was "confirming, relieving, exciting; it just felt right."
It is believed that Parker will be the first African American male to sit in the position. Bennett was the first Black woman to sit in the seat in 2017.
"I honestly did not know I had made history in this way, but now that you've told me, it feels
good," Parker said. "I always teach my kids, my students and ex-ball players to make history before they go. Making history this way is my example of showing each of them how to reinvent themselves and move forward. History is made with each step we take."
Now that the elections, for this year, are over Parker can now get to legislating, where his fellow Republicans hold a 7-2 edge.
"The first thing I will do, which I've already started, is to make myself more familiar with the
budget and each county department's goals and needs," Parker said. "Next, I want to get deeply involved with the specific commissions, committees, and boards.
"The committees I serve are the Youth Services Commission, Disability Advisory Board, Education, and Schools Committee, Homeless committee, Human Services committee, Public Health and Environment Committee, and the Shared Services committee.
Parker said while politics in this era has never been more intense between the two parties, he is happy that he was able to make history and is looking forward to now making a difference for the county.
"The election cycles were historic in many ways throughout this country," Parker said. "Being a part of that history is truly an honor. In a time when politics have never been more divisive, I believe in a way forward by working together in commissions and committees to truly accomplish the best project for our communities and their residents.
"I look forward to working with all stakeholders who desire to build better communities and the
systems that govern these communities," he added.
QUESTION: Are you more encouraged about voting after November's election? Why or why not? Answer in the discussion section below.
What's New on Front Runner New Jersey.com?
Follow Us Today On:
Check Out FRNJ EXTRA Here. Note from AC JosepH Media: If you like this story and others posted on Front Runner New Jersey.com., lend us a hand so we can keep producing articles like these for New Jersey and the world to see. Click on SUPPORT FRNJ and make a contribution that will do directly in making more stories like this available. Thank you for reading.