Election Guide: County Sheriff, Three Freeholder Seats

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On November 7, voters in Cumberland County will choose from among seven candidates running for three seats on the County Freeholder Board. Also, voters in the county will select a Sheriff from two candidates. Read what these nine candidates believe are the most important issues (and what they will do about them, if elected.) 

SNJ Today held a Millville Candidates Forum at The Levoy. The event was well attended, but if you missed it, you can view it on Comcast Channel 22 at 7:30 a.m. Friday, November 3 through Monday, November 6.

The video is also pinned to the top of Facebook.com/ILoveCumberlandCounty

Also, tune in on Tuesday, November 7, from 9:30 to 11 p.m., as SNJ Today will continue a broadcasting tradition by presenting Election Night Live on Comcast Channel 22, 99.9FM and on Facebook Live via Facebook.com/ILoveCumberlandCounty.

Cumberland County will choose from among two candidates running for Sheriff and for seven candidates running for three County Freeholder spots. Beginning below Freeholder candidate profiles appear in alphabetical order.

Take a look at our Election Guide with the nine candidates that running for the five seats on Millville’s City Commission.

Also, SNJ Today has partnered with Center for Cooperative Media, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and members of the NJ News Commons for the NJ Voting Block project for more local stories about South Jersey politics. 


Sheriff Candidates

Edwin Alicea, Republican

Honorable Discharge United States Marine Corps: 12 years Infantry Platoon Sergeant, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare Instructor. Retired Police Lieutenant serving 25 years. Public Safety Director Vineland City Police Department. Education: Bachelor’s Degree: Leadership & Public Administration, Master of Science Degree in Homeland Security, Graduate certification Terrorism Security Studies. 

Graduate: New Jersey Certified Public Management Program, West Point Command and Leadership Police Program. Fmr. Instructor for the NJ Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership program in two states, New Jersey and Delaware. Adjunct Professor: Fairleigh Dickinson and Wilmington Universities, Cumberland and Rowan at Gloucester County Colleges. Police Academy Instructor over 25 years: Gangs, Terrorism, Officer Safety, Spanish for Law Enforcement. Multiple Instructor Certifications. 

Commandant Semper Marine Detachment

Member: Vineland United Veterans Council, East Coast Gang Investigators Association, International Association of Counter Terrorism and Security Professionals.

Married: Lillian Alicea, Sons: Edwin Alicea Jr., Joshua Alicea, Grandfather to Remy and Angie Alicea.  

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Gangs are synonymous with drug trafficking, guns and violence. Inmates housed in our correctional facilities from other parts of the state and country, decide to stay in the area once released from incarceration. Some bring their cohorts in crime, family members or friends and associates to the area. This would not be an issue if they became productive members of society; sadly, it does not happen all of the time. This feeds into the growing gang subculture.

Opioid addictions. Over 100 persons overdosed every day in the US. Cumberland County is not immune to this national epidemic. This is a problem facing all communities. It is difficult to find a family in Cumberland county not touched by this national problem. The problem is bigger than we think. Due to their desperation, persons suffering from this addiction contribute greatly to the rising crime in our community. 

High Turn Over: The Sheriff’s Department has the highest officer turn-over rate than any other department in the county. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars. These officers are so underpaid that as soon as they finish their training they flee to other agencies.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

First and foremost, I will meet with all of the leaders of all the law enforcement agencies in the county. I would request assistance in creating a county wide street crimes task force. This task force will be comprised of Local, County, State and Federal officers. They would be tasked with addressing all types of crimes in our communities, addressing potential hot-spots. I would request federal funding to have all of the Sheriff’s officers equipped with body cameras. This task force will be comprised of hand selected officers for their initiative and dedication to duty. 

I will evaluate the need for the amount of Sheriff’s officers assigned to administrative duties including the need for the Undersheriff, Warrant Officer, and Chief. I would hire retired officers to reduce the number of trained officers doing administrative duties, freeing officers to do what the taxpayers are expecting them to do.

Please provide a closing statement: 

As Sheriff for Cumberland County, I will insure the officers, citizens and all stakeholders of Cumberland County are provided with the highest level of service and professionalism. I will insure the officers are highly trained, equipped, and compensated properly. I will reduce the administrative footprint of the agency. I will restore the pride and respect the Sheriff’s department is deserving of. 

I have dedicated my life to public service. This is not about Edwin Alicea, this is about what Edwin Alicea can do for the people of Cumberland County. The citizens, and the Sheriff officers deserve better. We cannot continue to do the same things and expect different results. It’s time for a positive change. I would like the opportunity to serve as a leader of the fine men and women of the Sheriff’s Department to improve on the services it provides to our county.

Robert Austino, incumbent, Democrat

I have spent over 30 years in law enforcement and I bring this experience to the Sheriff’s Office every day. I was hired by Vineland Police Department in April 1973 and I worked my way up the ranks to serve as a Lieutenant. 

Through the years, I have worked hard to develop innovative programs that keep our streets safer while bringing our communities together. 

That is why I proudly serve as a member of the International Association of Chief of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association, Cumberland County Human Relations Commission and Cumberland County Youth Services Advisory Council.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

From every corner of every community residents worry about safety.  The challenges Cumberland faces are that of every community in the nation.  Joblessness, opioid addiction, lack of education and a dismantling of community leaders are problems that in some way touch every family.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected? 

It begins with partnership.  We must continue to bring people together so that we can grow together and succeed together.

As Sheriff, I have been willing to listen and do whatever it takes to help local governments, community and faith based organizations and support the initiatives of our Freeholder Board.  

I have invested time and compassion in addressing these issues as Sheriff and it is crucial that I be allowed to continue serving the citizens of the county in order to continue our efforts of reform.

Higher police visibility and more officers on the road is not just strategy but a solution to continue to lower the crime rate percentage.  We will continue to develop and enhance our relationships with each police department.

Please provide us with a closing statement: 

A great future begins with everyone working together.  As local elected officials it is up to us to demonstrate that we do more by bringing people together than pulling them apart.  In order for Cumberland County to reach its full potential, we must support our rural farmers, revitalize our cities, create jobs and develop new educational opportunities.


County Freeholder Candidates

George Castellini, Democrat

I am a lifelong Vineland resident who is able to bring my experience in both the business community and in law enforcement to build a better future for Cumberland County.  I am running for Freeholder because I believe a new approach is needed to move Cumberland County forward.  We must rise above partisan politics and focus on jobs, growth, development and safety.

I am the Vice President and CEO of Biondi Insurance Inc., a business that has been based in Vineland since 1974.  In addition, I am the owner and founder of US Central Systems, a Vineland based security and alarm monitoring company I founded in 1978. My favorite thing about these companies is that they allow me meet so many wonderful people throughout the region every day.  I have found through the years that while everyone is unique, there is so much that brings us together.

I am 1974 graduate of Vineland High School, I was a proud member of the Cumberland County’s Sherriff’s Department and the Vineland Police Department.

My law enforcement experience certainly helped to create who I am today, but more importantly it gave me a perspective, insight and understanding that even after all these years is still at my personal core.   While today’s challenges are different, the need for us to work together to meet those challenges has never been more apparent.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

During the last election, I promised a decrease in crime, appropriate spending and a transparent government, and an environment for employment. I worked hard and kept my promises. While much has been done, these are the issues that still must continue to be the commission’s emphasis.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

I decided to pursue a seat on the Freeholder Board, because I want to give back to the community that that has been so good to me.  I plan to use my business experience to find cost savings through efficiencies, while using my police background to bring communities together.  I want to see the County reach its full economic potential.

We must bring jobs to the region and that starts with making our streets safe and preparing an infrastructure to support economic growth.

I was born in Cumberland County, I served in Cumberland County and I work in Cumberland County but what I am most proud of is that I have raised my family in Cumberland County.  We must begin working now so that there are more stories like mine well into the future.

Please provide a closing statement: 

Partisan arguments have never build a business.  In-fighting has never lowered a property tax bill.  In order to grow as a community, we must bring people together.  For Cumberland County to thrive, we must In support our rural farmers, revitalize our cities, create jobs and develop new educational opportunities.

Carman Daddario (incumbent), Republican

This candidate did not submit a candidate questionnaire. Biographical information is printed below: 

Carman Daddario was elected Freeholder in November of 2014. He is a former owner/partner of Eugene Printing Company in Bridgeton and is presently employed at Cumberland Insurance Group. He is a Licensed Real Estate Agent and former president, treasurer and coach of the Bridgeton Midget Basketball League and former vice president, treasurer, and coach of the West Cumberland Little League. He has served eight years on the Stow Creek Board of Education and four years as a Councilman for the Borough of Shiloh.

Freeholder Daddario is most proud of being treasurer for Miracle for Mateo Foundation in memory of his late daughter Megan who passed away in June 2011. Miracle for Mateo supports and raises money for families with a child dealing with heart disease and life-threatening illnesses. He is a graduate of Immaculate Conception Regional School and Bridgeton High School. Freeholder Daddario and his wife Beth reside in the Borough of Shiloh. Their son Carman III and his wife Hope reside in Upper Deerfield Township.

Robert Johnson, Independent

I live in Vineland. I was born and raised in Bridgeton by a single mom who raised three kids all on her own. She adopted me right out of the hospital. I’m a true definition of a child that was raised by a village. I started working at Big John’s Pizza in Bridgeton at the early age of 10 years old washing dishes. My mentor “REDS” allowed me to work myself up through the ranks. At the age of 24 I was able to purchase my own pizza shop in Vineland. Fourteen years later and here we are. I am now married to my wife Heather and we have three amazing kids. I also own Bouncin Buddies and DMK Management. I bring a lot of business experience and know-how to balance budgets and make tough decisions when needed. I also believe people should come before a “PARTY.”

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Economic development, the budget, crime and drugs. 

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

1. I think we need to market our economic development and continue to bring new businesses here so our residents have good paying jobs. We also need to do a better job keeping existing businesses in our county. In order to bring new business and new families to our area we must clean up our area as well. Everywhere you look, dilapidated buildings and eyessores are on just about every corner. We need to do a better job keeping owners accountable for their properties, too. 

2. The budget and county spending is a huge issue in our county. We need to do a better job of keeping our taxes affordable for our residents. Ways to help this happen could be shared services, consolidating smaller municipalities together, and reducing outrageous spending in every department under the county administration. We need to help residents keep more money in their pockets. 

3. Crime and drugs are going out of control in our county. We need to work harder with local police, sheriff, and all municipalities in order to gain control of this madness. I would love to see this county invest more time and money into our children. We need to educate them young so they are equipped to make good choices. Crime and drugs work hand in hand. The pill epidemic we are facing needs to start being looked at as a medical issue rather than a criminal issue. 

Please provide us with a closing statement: 

We are a GREAT County with GREAT residents. Together we can BE THE CHANGE!!! It is time for us to stop following the personal agenda of a “party” and work towards obtainable goals for the citizens of our county. From the elderly to our children, we need to do a better job for their future. I will work hard to make sure EVERY voice is heard. We will come together in UNITY and move forward for the better of Cumberland County. No one will be left behind or forgotten. 

TOGETHER WE CAN BE THE CHANGE.....VOTE 6C ON NOV 7th.

Victoria Lods, Republican

I am a lifelong Vineland resident. I was raised on my family’s farm, “Victoria Farms,” by parents Wayne and Valerie (Braidi) Groetsch. Growing up, I attended Vineland Public Schools and went on to Cumberland County College, ultimately graduating from Rowan University.  

I have dedicated nearly 20 years to public service. I previously served as chief-of-staff to Senator Asselta, working alongside the former Senator, helping to develop legislation and policies on central issues affecting Cumberland County residents. I later became the first executive director for Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity, building homes, raising funds, and volunteer support for local families in need. 

Most recently, I have taken my passion for public service in a new direction as a public school educator, teaching English at Bridgeton High School. My husband Michael and I are raising two young boys—John Henry and James—on the family farm. I represent the fifth generation to call Vineland home.  

 In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Cumberland County faces many challenges. At the forefront of so many issues is the lack of advocacy and leadership for our county. From issues as critical to our economic survival as losing millions of dollars in public school funding and UEZ designation for the three major cities in our county to more focused issues like providing the leadership necessary to solve the SPCA matter.

Additionally, the lack of promoting our great county with its endless diversity and assets to grow into the economic hub we once were limits our potential. With stronger advocacy and leadership we would be able to combat challenges that face our residents every day such as the lack of jobs, fiscal discipline and rapidly increases taxes.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

Building relationships with our congressional delegation, state representatives, municipal leaders and school board officials is the first step in becoming a strong advocate for our county. Along with building relationships with all levels of government comes education. I intend to sit down with each county department to get a firm grasp on the issues they face and resources they yearn for. With this level of knowledge combined, effective decisions can be made to begin to combat lack of jobs, maintain fiscal discipline, and find unique ways to hold the line on county taxes.  

Please provide us with a closing statement.

I would first like to thank the people of Cumberland County. As I have gone door-to-door, event-to-event, listening to the hopes, fears, and dreams of so many, I began to realize that I am uniquely prepared for this challenge.  My strongest asset in this race is my experience advocating, problem solving and understanding the diverse needs of the people in our county.  

Now is the time for new leadership.  Now is the time for a new vision for Cumberland County. It is our time to create opportunities for growth while still maintaining the way of life we are so proud of in our beloved county. This journey has just begun for us, and there is so much to be done.  However, I teach my children and my students that the joy is the journey. 

Carol Musso (Incumbent), Democrat

I am running for re-election because I am proud of the course we have mapped and I am excited about the potential. Having spent nearly 30 years in the banking industry and serving as a Committeewoman, Mayor and Deputy Mayor, I believe that building partnerships and trust is the best way to get things done.  I have been a Board Member and 1st Vice Chair of the Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce, a Board Member CCTEC Foundation, a member of South Jersey Health Care Auxiliary Board but the most important position I have held is being a mom to my twin daughters. 

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

The biggest issue we face is the continued effort to bring jobs to the region.  Over the last three years we have launched aggressive programs to bring high-quality jobs to Cumberland County. These are investments that will not only see dividends today but for generations to come.  

A strong work force is the foundation from which great communities grow and thrive.

When we talk about issues that residents experience every day, such as the need to address crime, improve our downtowns, upgrade our infrastructure or provide recreational opportunities, they all start with the need to be aggressive in providing opportunities for work.

Our Freeholder Board has taken this mission to heart and we have created innovative programs to aggressively pursue economic development opportunities. 

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

We have to continue to find ways to be competitive and to execute plans that support our strategy. We in Cumberland County are not the only ones trying to recruit new industries. We compete every day with other counties in the state, but also in the mid-Atlantic region. 

We must do a better job at competing, and by competing, I mean bringing people
into Cumberland County. This can be done through improving our services to residents, making our communities family friendly and providing a safe and updated infrastructure. 

For too long the County relied on outdated services and for the last several years we have worked to turn that around.  

Please provide us with a closing statement.

It is a shame that the politics of our nation have grown divisive, because true greatness comes through partnerships. In order for Cumberland County to reach its full potential we must support our rural farmers, revitalize our cities, create jobs and develop new educational opportunities.

Our team is committed to this mission and with your vote, we will continue to work to bring people together.

Kevin Smaniotto, Republican

I was born and raised in Vineland, lived in Bridgeton for 16 years and currently reside in Millville. I am a graduate of  York College of PA. I am married to Brenda (Spoltore) and we have three daughters—Amanda, Cara and Jillian.

I have worked in the private business community for my entire work career in Southern New Jersey in sales, marketing and business development fields. My extensive business experience has given me a unique view of the county and its needs. The business of Cumberland County will rely upon those with a vision of growth and development that increases meaningful and lasting job opportunities for the residents. 

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Cumberland County suffers from escalating property taxes, stagnant economic development and a crumbling infrastructure. County taxes continue to rise on average approximately 3% per year. There are increases that have come to be expected, as residents have no prospects of holding the line and halting the upward trend. Our first priority must be creating jobs that result in a good living wage for county residents. We must attract those businesses and industries that are willing and able to grow within the county. Areas such as Logan Township in Gloucester County can be a model for us to emulate. The introduction of an industry and technology park will stimulate competition for our workforce. As time passes, our roads and waterways begin to deteriorate at an accelerated rate because we have focused on emergency repair strategies. Cumberland County must develop a strategic plan of maintenance based upon most urgent need that will allow for a methodical diagram for future upkeep.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

Taxes in Cumberland County will only slow their upward trend by addressing expenses and contemplation of a dramatic shared service plan that reflects real savings.  Other counties boast a growing tax base while our county loses taxable properties at a very high annual rate. We must stop the downward trend and slow tax increases. We can only hope to expand development when we understand what businesses need to succeed. Support of our county educational institutions is the key to providing the properly educated workforce necessary to attract new business and industry. There will never be development without leadership that is willing to make growth a priority. Our roads are the vital lifelines of the county. By promoting a plan of maintenance, we will truly help to control or level out expenditures. Proper planning will allow for expanded care of county roads.

Please provide us with a closing statement: 

The families of Cumberland County are the backbone of our communities. As each year passes, more young people leave our county because opportunities have evaporated at an even faster rate. We will never experience lasting growth if our children choose not to return because they cannot maximize their economic potential. Better career choices will stimulate our economy and bring better prospects to the county. As we all know, a quality education is the catalyst to economic prosperity and we can only achieve this by starting with the education of our children. 

Jack Surrency, Democrat

My roots are here in Cumberland County, I am a proud member of Bridgeton High School’s Class of 1973. I went on to Cumberland County Community College and then Tuskegee Institute from 1976 to 1978, majoring in chemistry with a business minor. I have a Master’s Degree in Community and Economic Development from New Hampshire College and for the last several years have been working with the CCIA to improve and enhance our region. 

In addition to serving as a Bridgeton Councilman, I have worked with great companies such as Hunt Wesson Foods, Atlantic Richfield Company of PA, and Mobil’s research and development division in Paulsboro, NJ. 

This experience has given me great insight into what needs to be done to build a better future.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

We need to continue to enhance our focus on bringing businesses and jobs to Cumberland County. Our foundation for success lays there. We must address our increase in crime and we must continue to invest in our infrastructure.   

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

Building a better future takes a plan, it takes elected officials with the fortitude to execute that plan and it takes hard work from community leaders to see the plan through to the end. We are blessed with tremendous resources but we need to coordinate and communicate our efforts as we continue to compete against our neighbors to bring in companies and businesses. 

When we improve our infrastructure we not only address a major safety concern, we also improve the appearance of our County. Most importantly, however, we are providing jobs to Cumberland County residents when we invest in those projects. Those residents, in turn, are now able to invest back into the County’s businesses, creating even more jobs and opportunities. 

I have seen first-hand the devastating effects that our poor economy has caused. Residents should not fear for their safety nor should families have to suffer the consequences of addiction only to lose their children to violence. 

Issues that affect the entire community must be solved by the entire community. I will work hand-in-hand with each municipality, their community leaders, elected officials, and leaders in faith to develop strategies to repair the damage of the past while building a better tomorrow. 

Please provide us with a closing statement: 

Cumberland County might be made up of 14 municipalities, but we are all in this fight together. The fight to bring jobs back to the region. The fight to invest in our future. The fight to improve the quality of life in our communities. I have spent my life bringing people together to solve problems through collaboration, communication, and coordination. We have the resources, we have the people and we have the opportunity. Now, we must stand shoulder to shoulder because together, we are stronger. 


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