GOP Resuscitated in Clayton Borough

Activists Credit Independent Run in 2019 for Inspiration

Gloucester County’s Clayton Borough has been a one-party town since the death of its former Mayor and Republican Party leader Jeff Radio in 2016. That ended this year in January, when a group of unhappy Clayton residents met to help revive the GOP.

According to Marge Landis, long time Clayton resident and interim chairperson of the Borough’s newly formed Republican party, “a large and growing number of dissatisfied residents complained that they had nowhere to turn to voice their opposition to decisions being made by the people who rule Clayton”, she said. She was first asked to help organize opposition by neighbors “when the Borough issued its letter of support for a business most residents did not want in town”, she said. The echoes of opposition grew louder when “it was made public that the Borough’s officials planned to merge away Clayton’s Police department without even asking the town’s families”, said Landis. “When people saw that a young man had the guts to muster a campaign without a political party behind him, with limited funds and virtually no campaign staff – and dented the Mayor’s re-election by getting nearly one third of the vote – the residents responded by pushing for its own voice in the town”, Landis said.

That young man – Quinton Burnett – filed last year to run as an independent candidate for Mayor after the June primary election – a move prompted, he said “because there was no opposition to the one-party system in Clayton”. Burnett was the first mayoral candidate to challenge the incumbent party’s candidate since 2011. He is not, however, active at this time in the newly forming GOP organization.

Independent Clayton mayoral candidate Quinton Burnett in 2019 campaign photograph

Along with its newly revived political party, two Clayton residents who are new to politics have announced their candidacy for the two Borough Council seats currently held by Democrats Charles Simon and Darlene Vondran.

Seeking seats on Clayton’s Council as Republicans are residents Robert Lis and Frank A Morrow Jr. Lis and Morrow are both neighbors and members of the Clayton Elks. Morrow, who is now retired, is a 38-year member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, while Lis (also retired) spent more than 42 years in Mortgage Banking, including 30 years with Fannie Mae. Both said they are “dissatisfied with the lack of transparency and communication in Clayton’s leadership”.

Pictured left to right, Robert Lis and Frank Morrow, Republican candidates for Clayton Borough Council in 2020 November election.

Morrow pointed out that “if Simon and Vondran seek reelection, it will be their fourth term on Council”. It’s time for a fresh start in Clayton. “We do not need more dollar stores and Pot producers to rejuvenate Clayton”, said Lis. “Since the Mayor leads the County Economic Development Authority, he needs to bring in the kind of businesses that not only attract neighboring consumers into Clayton to enjoy our goods and services, but businesses that can add to our tax base and improve the overall quality of life for our residents”, he said.

According to Landis, whose husband Ken served as Clayton Mayor for four years in the 1990’s, she plans to serve as Republican Party interim chair only briefly, as the new party “grows its ground team”, she said. A number of residents have already volunteered to serve as Precinct Captains in the town’s voting districts, the candidates said.

For more information, contact Marge Landis at MLandis101@Verizon.Net, or Robert Lis and Frank Morrow, at MorrowLis@Outlook.Com.