PO Box 337
Whitehouse, NJ 08889
The most important challenge facing Hunterdon County is the economic damage from COVID-19. Our County government needs to determine ways we can help our small businesses; direct grants, tax abatements or other county programs should all be considered. The County also needs to use its Board of Health to help individual school boards. As our schools reopen, the County should assist school with Covid tests, safety equipment and/or man power.
I want our County government to start a grant/loan program to help small businesses affected by Covid. This program would be geared to helping businesses with the expenses faced when reopening. I also believe we need to expand our Health Department that was previously downsized in prior administrations. A County governing during a crisis, needs all hands on deck to help our community. Our County’s Board of Health needs to work with local school boards to provide assistance, so we can have our kids come back to school safely. Additionally, I want to bring a domestic violence shelter back to Hunterdon County. The County’s only shelter closed earlier in 2020 and survivors of domestic violence do not have sufficient access to the appropriate services.
I want to form a County committee with representatives from local municipalities and the public to explore the effect of race in Hunterdon’s policing. I want to provide County-wide mandatory law enforcement education classes. These classes would focus on de-escalation and resolution of situations that are non-criminal rather than ticketing and charging for minor offenses. Also we need training to prepare officers for mental health emergencies which are often intersected with many 911 calls.
Hunterdon County has a large reserve due to fiscal management.The reserve was intended to aid the community during times of emergency. We should use these reserves and the necessary resources to meet the County’s financial responsibilities and prioritize getting us through this crisis. We also need to drastically improve our infrastructure including our digital and electrical highways. Our internet capacity is low and as more and more adults and children are home bound, we need greater capacity.
One State Highway 12
Plaza One Suite 105
Flemington, NJ 08822
The most important challenge facing Hunterdon County are maintaining a flat tax rate while providing the same if not higher level of service that the residents of Hunterdon County deserve, following the adage “do more with less.” The residents of New Jersey are already over taxed by income, sales and the gas tax and more are coming in the new State budget but not from their County government. I served 21 years in municipal government, having spent 10 of those years on our finance subcommittee, which gave me insight into the world of municipal finance. We are required by law to balance a budget and we did, providing fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability, something that I joined with my Freeholder colleagues in maintaining at the County level.
We will continue to look at operating efficiencies, whether it be in our Department of Public Works, Buildings and Grounds, Parks and so on. County government exists to provide vital and needed services to our residents, such as Human and Senior Services, Veteran’s Services, and Health Department inspections, just to name a few. We challenge our Department Heads to look at their Departments from the outside and make improvements in how their Departments are operated. Every year they live up to this task and amaze us with new ways to serve the public.
The Police Chiefs and Public Safety Directors who oversee their respective departments must pull back the curtain to provide greater transparency so as to grow the public’s trust of and confidence in policing. We need our police officers, now more than ever, but they must realize that the public is watching, watching for missteps and mistakes that they must readily own up to and be transparent on.
Here in Hunterdon we are fortunate to have Acting Prosecutor Michael Williams, and before Mr. Williams, Prosecutor Anthony Kearns, both who with their teams have always taken most seriously the issues of citizen safety, community response, accountability, discrimination and the control of the use of force in policing. There has been extensive and continual training for law enforcement officers in Hunterdon County, which Acting Prosecutor Williams addressed at a Freeholder meeting back on June 16, 2020. Additionally, the Prosecutors from Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset Counties hosted a joint virtual town hall on July 28th seeking community input for use in development of the NJ Attorney General’s plans to updates the state’s Use-of-Force policy. I listened in on that virtual meeting and was impressed with the ideas expressed by members of the public. Mr. Williams shared the results of the town hall discussion on August 4th Freeholder meeting and has indicated he would keep the public apprised as the new statewide use of force policy is established.
I would encourage other jurisdictions in the state and around the country to follow this example of concern, responsibility and accountability demonstrated by law enforcement leadership here in Hunterdon County.
We came to realize that we must provide for our own citizens within our County, that we cannot rely upon the State of New Jersey, where Governor Murphy for months sat on monies that were passed down from the Federal Government, to appropriate with legal memorandums of understanding and legalese. We appropriated $ 100,000 within our budget to battle COVID. We will allocate the resources necessary to protect the residents of Hunterdon County. We have replenished our stockpile of PPE and ventilators to provide for our first responders and healthcare facilities and continue to train for readiness.