Gloucester Township Democratic Councilwoman Michelle Gentek is setting her sights on higher office.
Camden County Democrats announced Saturday afternoon that they unanimously selected Gentek, 44, to replace Rodney Greco on the ballot for a seat on the county freeholder board. Greco, also a township resident, is not seeking reelection.
Gentek joins incumbent county Sheriff Charles "Chuck" Billingham, along with Freeholders Jeffrey Nash and Ian Leonard on this year's Democratic slate.
It was not clear Saturday afternoon whether Gentek will immediately step down from her council seat. Neither she nor a spokesman for the county Democratic Committee immediately returned phone messages.
Gentek's current term expires in 2013.
"Three years ago I was a basketball and Cub Scout mom who started attending local council meetings, when I was picked to run for Gloucester Township Council," Gentek said in a prepares statement. "Serving in public life is a great honor that I wish I had appreciated earlier in my life. As a single mom of three sons, I know firsthand the struggles of our middle-class families–people who work harder than ever to stay afloat, feel like they pay too much for government, and think they're getting too little in return."
Prior to her election to township council in 2009, Gentek was chairwoman of her Neighborhood Watch program for more than twelve years, which resulted in her taking on the National Rifle Association in a dispute over hunting in her neighborhood. In 2008, she was honored by the township as "A Woman Who Makes a Difference."
While serving on the Gloucester Township council, Gentek spearheaded the township's local sustainability program to reduce energy costs and to take recycling to a whole new level, according to a release from county Democrats. She also created the township's first Community Gardens Program. In addition, Gentek worked to make government live within its means by supporting three zero tax increase budgets in a row in Gloucester Township, and sharing services with neighboring communities to reduce redundancy and create greater efficiency in services, the release states.
In a joint statement, state Sens. Jim Beach and Donald Norcross, co-chairmen of the county Democratic Committee, said: "We are proud to have someone with Michelle Gentek's energy and enthusiasm on our slate this year. Michelle is a citizen, not a politician. She knows what it's like to sit at the kitchen table on a Friday night when it's time to pay the bills just like every family does in Camden County."
"I look forward to campaigning in all thirty-seven municipalities in Camden County as we bring our message of fighting for middle-class taxpayers," Gentek said in the statement. "Camden County is a great place to live, raise a family, and start a business–and make no mistake about it, I'm going to work hard to promote it."