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Middlesex County Freeholders {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders is elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis. At an annual reorganization meeting in January, the Board selects from among its members a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director, who appoint Freeholders to serve as chairpersons and members on the various committees which oversee county departments. Committees include: Business Development and Education, Community Services, Finance, Infrastructure Management, and Public Safety and Health.

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  • Candidate picture

    Kenneth Armwood
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Clary Azcona-Barber
    (Dem)

  • Thomas J. Coghan
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Edna Cox-Rivers
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Charles Kenny
    (Dem)

  • Gregg R. Rubenstein
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenges facing Middlesex County? What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

What priorities would you like to see in the budget proposed in January, 2020, in the county? Are there areas in which the budget could be further tightened or areas that should be increased? Please specify areas in need of oversight or changes in funding.

How will you address public transportation, if at all?

Campaign Email dbraga@mcdonj.org
Website www.mcdonj.com
Website www.mcdonj.com
Campaign Address 266 Fernwood Ave, Edison, NJ 08837
Beginning with my service on the Piscataway Board of Education, and continuing during my time on the Piscataway Town Council, I’ve recognized that education is the building block on which our communities and residents can thrive and grow. As a Freeholder I have continued to prioritize education and workforce development to make sure our residents and businesses succeed in Middlesex County. Overseeing our Department of Business Development and Education has allowed me to explore new programs to expand opportunities for our constituents. This past year, we introduced SkillUp™ Middlesex, an innovative program which utilizes technology to allow our residents to take 5,500 free, online courses. This includes courses designed to prepare residents for industry recognized certifications such as Six Sigma Black Belt (utilizing statistical analysis to improve business practices), Senior Professional in Human Resources, or Microsoft Office Specialist. I’ve also worked closely with our Vocational School System which has expanded courses for STEM professions and introduced new majors. I am proud of the fact that our vocational schools have received national recognition for the opportunities which they provide our students.
I am proud to serve on a Freeholder Board which has established fiscal responsibility as a guiding principle in every decision we make. By cutting the County’s debt, and controlling spending, we have increased the County’s retained surplus to over $74 million. This responsible decision making has been recognized by Standard and Poors, which has awarded us the coveted Triple A Bond Rating for 18 years. This financial stability has allowed us to make major investments in our community. In 2015, our Freeholder Board created the Cultural and Arts Trust Fund, which invests $10 million each year to expand arts, and cultural venues and programming. We are seeing these investments come to life through our support of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the Metuchen Arts District, the Carteret Performing Arts Center, and the Avenel Arts Center.
As the Chair of the Department of Business Development and Education, I know that transportation is an integral part of any economic development strategy. Businesses and residents alike recognize Middlesex County’s accessibility is a valued attribute. We have an obligation to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure, which is the backbone of our County’s economy. For this reason, our Freeholder Board is aligning our transportation resources into a new Department of Transportation. This Department will serve as the County’s single point of contact,; working across numerous partners at the local, state, and federal level, to advocate and drive progress on transportation projects to the benefit of our residents and businesses in Middlesex County as part of our economic development strategy. Our investment in transportation allows us to realize even greater value from our investments in education through our county college and vocational schools, by making sure we can get our educated workforce connected to jobs via a superior transportation infrastructure.
Campaign Email dbraga@mcdonj.org
Website www.mcdonj.com
Website www.mcdonj.com
Campaign Address 266 Fernwood Ave, Edison, NJ 08837
As a management specialist in the City of New Brunswick, I have seen first hand how Middlesex County programs and services benefit our resident’s quality of life. Whether through our shared services agreements in which New Brunswick utilizes the County’s Public Health Office, or through the Senior Meal program which ensures that seniors, even those which are homebound, have access to nutritious food, the County supports vital services. In Spring 2020, the federal government will be conducting the Census. In Fiscal Year 2016, New Jersey received over $22 billion in funding from federal programs based upon census information. Much of this funding is for quality of life services which are important to our residents. I look forward to working with the Complete Count Committee which the Board of Chosen Freeholders has formed to ensure an accurate, complete census count so that Middlesex County gets our fair share of funding.
As someone who has worked in local government, and managed a family business, I understand just how important it is to control spending, save responsibly, and invest judiciously. The Board of Chosen Freeholders shares these values, as they’ve been awarded a Triple-A Bond Rating for 18 years. I know that a government that manages its’ money responsibility is in a better position to provide quality services. For example, Middlesex County has been certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for putting the infrastructure and systems in place to ensure that any veteran facing an insecure housing situation gets the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home. These are exactly the kinds of programs I will continue to prioritize and expand if I am elected to the Freeholder Board.
Throughout my tenure working in the City of New Brunswick, we have partnered with the County on many transportation and infrastructure projects. Most recently, the City and the County have partnered together on the Livingston Avenue Complete Streets project, a $6 million project funded using money provided by the Federal Highway Administration, administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. This project will provide safety improvements for the many drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who use this road. This is just one example of how we can leverage the power of partnerships across levels of government to provide improvements for our residents.
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In my perspective, the most critical challenges that citizens and voters of Middlesex County face in September 2019 – relative to the purview of the Middlesex County Board of Freeholders--are: 1. Revocation of the 2017 Middlesex County Board of Freeholders resolution that explicitly rejects honoring an ICE request for detainer of illegal aliens in County custody; 2. Greater efficiency in Middlesex County utilization of taxpayer dollars; 3. Development of a Middlesex County plan for public transportation; and 4. Overcome levels of obscurity within which Middlesex County Board of Freeholders operates.

As an American citizen with more than 100 years of heritage in this country, I first give honor to God, to the U.S. Constitution, and to our federal government—without whom and without which we would have no country, no states, and no counties. I have lived in Middlesex County for more than 25 years, and I believe it is the best county in New Jersey. Nonetheless, I also believe our Middlesex County government can do better in listening to our citizens and in responding to our voters. As an administrator and facilitator, I am skilled at collaboration, analyzing issues, solving problems, and reaching consensus. As a person who believes in the value of education, I view integrity with the utmost importance.
My first priority would be to gain insight into the priorities held by Middlesex County citizens – in order to identify budget areas that could/should be decreased and/or increased. Middlesex County currently operates with greater than a $400M budget, which is publicly presented on 20+ legal size pages in very small print. At this point, I am of the opinion that every aspect of this budget requires closer oversight.
I agree that some demonstration of public transportation is a critical need for Middlesex County residents. A plan to meet that need must be constructed and implemented. Thus, I would address it as a continuing problem that requires a speedy resolution.
Campaign Email dbraga@mcdonj.org
Website www.mcdonj.com
Website www.mcdonj.com
Campaign Address 266 Fernwood Ave, Edison, NJ 08837
Our job as elected members of the Freeholder Board is to ensure that we continue to provide quality services to our residents in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible. As Chair of the County’s Infrastructure Management Committee, I’ve prioritized planning for the future through our Destination 2040 Strategic Planning initiative. Destination 2040 goes far beyond a traditional county Master Plan, and is focused on everything from housing, education, workforce development, and infrastructure. The County has partnered with the Public Outreach and Engagement Team, known as “POET”, from the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, to do coordinated public outreach to solicit feedback directly from our residents, businesses, and thought leaders. From this feedback, our team will create a plan which links the actions we take today with our strategic vision for the future starting in 2020 and beyond. This plan will contain specific and measurable action items to guide our County. As a former Council President in Woodbridge, I know how important it is to make sure we are hearing directly from our residents, at the local level, so we can be responsive to their needs and priorities. As the world around us changes with the infusion of new technology, we are making sure Middlesex County is prepared and has a roadmap for the future.
As a Freeholder Board, our priority has always been to provide high-quality services, and programs for our residents while controlling expenses. Since 2014, we have reduced county debt by $237 million - a 34% decrease. This has reduced our annual debt service payments by $17 million. Minimizing this debt has put us in a strong financial position which enables to invest in our infrastructure. The 2019 County budget included $50 million in capital infrastructure investments. This includes maintaining our over 3,000 acres of County Parks, infusing technology such as adaptive signal systems to control traffic flow, and strategic investments across the county in comprehensive transportation system improvements, roadway improvements, and bridge and culvert projects. We will continue to make smart investments which improve the critical infrastructure our residents rely on.
Our Freeholder Board has committed to establishing a best-in-class approach to Transportation in Middlesex County. The way we move is rapidly evolving, which means the way we approach transportation challenges needs to change as well. That’s why, earlier this year, we announced the establishment of a Department of Transportation. This Department will realign the County’s existing resources, and collaborate with stakeholders across the public and private sectors to develop an innovative approach to transportation. We are currently undertaking a national search to identify an experienced transportation professional to lead this effort. Middlesex County intends to lead the way in taking new transportation ideas and making them a reality.
Website www.greggrubensteinlaw.com
Website www.greggrubensteinlaw.com
Taxes, affordability, open space, and infrastructure. As a parent and business owner, I face and live these issues every day- from paying property taxes, managing a household budget, travelling to/from work etc. As a result, I have insight as to how these issues impact the residents of this County.
Firstly, the County budget needs to be reviewed for waste and to see if services can be provided in a more efficient manner. In doing so, politics and favoritism must be eliminated from the budget. Secondly, expanding open space and maintaining the beauty and environment of our County must be a priority. Thirdly, our infrastructure needs to be improved.
I would focus on the quality and maintenance of our roads, including, making daily commutes as efficient as possible- better paved roadways, expanding lanes (including HOV lanes), timing of traffic lights and the like. In addition, expanding bus service with clean(er) energy.