As Tuesday night's election results trickled into Democratic headquarters at the Verga Fire Company, the mood of incumbent Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo was ever-changing.
First relief, then a little bit of worrying, some cautious optimism and as, she received news that she had defeated Republican challenger Jeff Hansen, joy.
But the final emotion that seemed to take over DiCarlo was a fiery sense of determination that she was going to be more involved in 2013 and make her voice heard better.
That was her message before family, friends and fellow Democrats during her victory speech, as she exclaimed that West Deptford is “our town and we need to take it back.”
The Democratic voice has been stifled somewhat since the Republicans were able to gain a majority on the township committee last year. DiCarlo and fellow Democrat Donna Szymborski hope that they will have more of a say on the committee next year.
“I'm a huge asset to the committee,” said DiCarlo. “I just hope this year that they utilize me.”
Szymborski was especially happy with DiCarlo's win. A loss by DiCarlo would have left Szymborski as the lone Democrat left on the township committee and she could have been powerless being outnumbered 4-1.
“I'm just so thrilled,” said Szymborski when asked about how she felt after DiCarlo's election. “Denice is such a great person to work with; her and I have worked very well together.”
There's a chance that tensions may still run high between Republicans and Democrats on the township committee after a campaign season that was highlighted by the GOP accusing DiCarlo of not having a CPA license and an election that was decided by a mere 99 votes. And Hansen is not ready to concede the race, given the slim margin of victory.
DiCarlo said that she is determined to put the accusations of the past few months behind her and move on.
"I'm not the type of person who holds grudges, you can ask any of my family members or my friends,” said DiCarlo. “I'm really glad that the campaigning is over, because from Labor Day on, it was a distraction. We need to get back to governing.”
While she didn't specifically say that she wanted to be the finance chair on township committee next year, DiCarlo did admit she wants to be a lot more involved in the finances of West Deptford. DiCarlo was in charge of Public Works in 2012.
“I think there's a lot of financial things that I can bring to the town,” she said. “My background is in finance, so that's the thing I think we need the most.”
The most important thing for DiCarlo and Szymborski, though, is to make a positive impact on the township in 2013. With two seats up for election next year, the hope in the party is that a good 2013 will lead to a Democratic majority in the committee again following next year's election.
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