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Mayor Rochford to retire at end of term, in May

Haddonfield Mayor Neal Rochford has announced that he will not seek re-election to the Board of Commissioners. The election, for three commissioners serving concurrent four-year terms, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11.

Mayor Rochford posted the following message on his “Haddonfield Mayor Neal Rochford” Facebook page today:

“Dear Friends,

“I am announcing that I will not be running for another term on the Haddonfield Board of Commissioners. As I look forward to embarking on my next chapter, I leave proud that I was able to serve three portfolios: Finance, Public Safety and Public Works during my time in office.

“It is our engaged community that makes Haddonfield truly a special place. Without a doubt, the appeal of Haddonfield is due to the contributions of countless residents who volunteer on boards and committees around town. I leave with a sense of pride, knowing that Haddonfield has continued to be the go-to town in the region for visitors and residents alike.

“One of the best aspects of Haddonfield’s elections is that they are nonpartisan. I hope that this tradition is not diminished by the strongly polarized political environment we are currently living in. I wish the future commissioners all the best as they continue to work together on the issues that will define Haddonfield for generations.

“While there are many people I would like to recognize, I want to give a special thank you to the borough employees who are the backbone of the municipal workings. Working alongside you all has been a wonderful experience.

“Lastly, I give a heartfelt thank you to the community for allowing me to serve as your commissioner and mayor. It has been my honor to serve my community and I have wonderful memories of my time as commissioner and mayor.”

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Neal Rochford first ran for the Board of Commissioners in 2001, placing fifth in a field of eight. (Tish Colombi, John Reisner, and Jack Tarditi were elected that year. Having received the highest number of votes, Tish Colombi became the mayor.)

Neal entered the fray again in 2005, and placed third in a field of five. (Colombi and Ed Borden served with him for the next four years.) He took on the Revenue & Finance portfolio.

He came fourth in a field of six in 2009 — Colombi, Borden, and newcomer Jeff Kasko formed the Board of Commissioners at that time — then returned to the board in 2013 with Kasko and newcomer John Moscatelli. Rochford took on the Public Affairs & Public Safety portfilio.

At the 2017 election, Kasko, Moscatelli, and Rochford ran unopposed. As the recipient of the largest number of votes, Rochford became the mayor. He continued as Director for Public Affairs & Public Safety until a special election was held in November 2019 to fill the unexpired term of John Moscatelli, who had resigned that summer. (Rochford and Kasko appointed Robert Marshall to serve as interim Commissioner until the election.) When Colleen Bianco Bezich was elected in November 2019, she took on the Public Affairs & Public Safety portfolio, and Rochford picked up Public Works, Parks and Public Buildings.

Neal Rochford was active in many community matters before he first ran for office, involvement that was recognized publicly when he was named Citizen of the Year in 2003. He was a key member of the committee that established First Night (the New Year’s Eve celebration) in the late 1990s, was treasurer for the HATCH (dinosaur sculpture) Committee, and served as president of the Rotary Club of Haddonfield.