Township Council chose Michelle Winters from a list of four residents nominated by the Gloucester Township Democrat Committee to complete what remains of Michelle Gentek's four-year term.
The all-Democrat Council was unanimous in approving Winters to serve on the governing body through Dec. 31, 2013. Councilwoman Tracey Trotto nominated Winters for the Council seat, and her motion was seconded by Councilman Dan Hutchison.
"Ms. Winters is a longtime resident of our township, a Triton graduate," Council Vice President Orlando Mercado said. "Lives in the Blenheim section of our town, is involved with the Triton Field Hockey Booster Club, is a part of the Gloucester Township Hockey Association, is a first-aid instructor for the Blackwood Kiwanis Little League and an individual who has served her community for many, many years, so I look forward to working with her."
Gentek was elected to the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders in November—three years after she was elected to her first public office, as township councilwoman. She took office on Jan. 4.
A handful of Republicans left Monday's meeting wondering whether Council had waited too long to appoint Gentek's replacement.
Camden County Republican Party spokesman Tom Crone indicated late Monday that party attorneys are looking at a state statute that appears to give municipal governments just 30 days to seat a replacement for an incumbent who was elected to another office after being nominated to run for election to that office by a political party.
"Based on reading it, they had 30 days," Crone said. "They're a week late."
The statute (NJ 40A:16-11) reads in part that "...the governing body shall, within 30 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, appoint one of the (municipal party committee's) nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy. If the governing body fails to appoint one of the nominees within the time prescribed herein, the municipal committee that named the three nominees shall, within the next 15 days, appoint one of the nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy, and such person shall be sworn in immediately."
Winters did not attend Monday's Council meeting. She was chosen by Council to complete Gentek's term over Erial resident Scott Owens and Blackwood residents Edward Pearce and Andrew Rosati.
Council went into closed session at the conclusion of its regular business Monday night to discuss potential replacements for Gentek. That discussion was limited to each candidate's merits, according to Council President Glen Bianchini.
"We reviewed each resume. We discussed community involvement," Bianchini said. "We discussed their ability to serve and how that would affect their ability on Council. There was no deliberation."