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Mercer County Freeholder {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

A freeholder is an elected, part-time legislator at the county level of government. The seven members of the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders are elected at-large to three-year, staggered terms and receive a salary of $29,763. State statutes determine the number of freeholders based on county classification and population.The Board acts to formulate policy and to provide a check on the powers of the County Executive. It approves all county contracts and gives advice and consent to the County Executive’s appointments of department heads and members of boards and commissions. After receiving the proposed county budget from the County Executive each year, it is the duty of the Freeholder Board to thoroughly review, make appropriate changes, and then vote on the budget.In 2019, two incumbents are running unopposed.

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  • Andrew Koontz
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Nina Melker
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most pressing challenges facing Mercer County? How will you address them?

What priorities would you like to see in the next budget for the County? Is there any specific department or agency that you consider particularly in need of attention; and if so, why?

For years Mercer County has used Sequoia voting machines. For years Princeton University scholars have advocated purchasing more secure machines with a paper trail. What criteria will you use to assess the adequacy of voting machines when recommending the coming purchase?

What pros and cons did you consider when you decided whether you were for or against the Mercer County Sheriff’s decision to purchase an armored vehicle? What was the protocol followed for this purchase and what changes, if any, do you recommend for future major purchases? What is the Freeholder's role in monitoring the use of this vehicle?

Most counties in New Jersey televise their meetings and post online the complete minutes, including a description of legislation and a record of each member's vote. Do you see a need for Mercer County to do the same? Why or why not?

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I believe as a County we must continue to provide the residents of Mercer County with all the amazing services we have to offer, while also keeping the tax burden as low as possible. Since joining the Freeholder Board, I have strived to bring professional expertise as a banker to the Freeholder Board by working hand and hand with the County Executive. Together we will continue to work smarter which in turn will save us on the bottom line.
Every department under the Mercer County umbrella deserves equal attention. That being said, I expect our next County budget to emphasize investments in our Mercer County educational system, continued economic growth, green initiatives, and expansions in our County’s already robust human service programs that focus on mental health awareness, drug and alcohol awareness, and services for our seniors.
It is imperative to find a voting machine that provides voter security, and accurate totals that also remain user-friendly to all of our voters. During the Spring of 2019, manufacturers representing several voting machines presented their voting machines to the Freeholder Board. After viewing these proposals, I have concluded that purchasing a machine with a paper trail is necessary.
Before voting on this purchase, I took into consideration the overall need, the safety of our residents and the officers who protect the county as my utmost priority. Ultimately, I voted in favor of the purchase.

This vehicle that will be purchased is already being used in Mercer County when warranted, but is owned by the New Jersey State Police and is often not in Mercer County when a call comes in. Now that our Sheriff’s office has access to this vehicle the response time to a crisis level situation will be dramatically improved.

On top of that, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on this vehicle is restrictive in use and will be strictly prohibited from being taken to sites of demonstrations or other types of protests. The protective nature of the vehicle with its restrictive SOPs in place outweigh the negative perception that can be overcome through education about the vehicle and its use.

The protocol for the purchase of this vehicle was no different from any other purchase in Mercer County. For any County contract to be approved it must be approved by the Freeholder Board which is what happened in this case.

Direct oversight of this vehicle will fall under the Sheriff’s Department.
Transparency is a hallmark of good government. I believe that the public must be informed and given every opportunity to participate in government. I firmly believe Mercer County Government is open, honest and transparent. Our Freeholder Board normally meets twice each meeting cycle, providing the public with the opportunity to view and participate in our Agenda Meetings which is when items on the agenda are questioned, discussed and debated. The Public is then given two opportunities to speak at our Formal Meeting where formal votes are taken.

Currently, our meetings are not televised. If a fiscally responsible option became available that would allow our meetings to be televised, I certainly would support it.