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Atlantic County Freeholder-At-Large {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

In 1974, Atlantic County voters changed the county governmental form under the Optional County Charter Law to the executive form. The charter provides for a popularly-elected executive and for a nine member freeholder board, responsible for legislation. The freeholders are elected to staggered three-year terms. Five of the freeholders represent equally populated districts; four are elected from the county-at-large.

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  • Candidate picture

    Celeste Fernandez

  • Candidate picture

    Caren Fitzpatrick

  • John W. Risley Jr.

  • Candidate picture

    James Toto

Biographical Information

1. What do you consider the most important challenges facing our county?

2. What personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges?

3. What policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial justice in our county?

4. What role do you envision for the county government in combating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for future pandemics?

Campaign Address 1520 S Main Street Pleasantville, NJ 08232
Facebook Page fb/@Cfernandezatlanticcounty
High Unemployment Rate High Taxes Lack of Jobs and Job opportunities Shortage of Skilled Workforce Lack of Economic Diversification Lack of Leadership and Sense of Direction
I am a community leader who have been serving Atlantic County communities for almost two decades, working together with the local government community leaders, elected officials and small business owners to bring solutions to the issues that affect our residents on a daily basis, I am a small business owner, I have extensive experience working in the commercial and real estate as well as the casino and restaurant industry in Atlantic County. I have been an advocate for sustainable economic development, the Casino worker’s rights and health benefits, equality, women, minorities, good-paying jobs and job training, and those most affected with the economic decline in Atlantic County. I am a staunch advocate for those in our communities that often feel that they don't have a voice in educational, economic, and social issues. I am a strong supporter of the health, safety, welfare and quality of life/affordability for all of those who reside in, work, and visit Atlantic County.
We have to work on depleting the systemic racism that is holding back the development of our people and our economic growth. I will embrace diversity and inclusion. To reform our county jail system, to put in place resolutions that support equality and equity, access to quality education and job training. access to good paying jobs.
My goal is to better the Social-Economic conditions of our county. To be effective with county government services and to be fiscally responsible with your county tax dollars. To empower our people, to make sure that their health and wellness is our priority, to ensure that the county programs are reaching our communities and that those programs are meeting our community needs. To foster innovation and technology, to retrain our workforce and to prepared them for the 21st century jobs. To provide access to health care, test and treatments and to put in place the necessary resources to help our residents and small businesses in a time of needs and to form alliances and create public private partnership to promote Sustainable Economic Development and diversify our economy. My plan is to create a support system that allow us to continue operating and living while handling future pandemics.
Campaign Address PO Box 474 Linwood, NJ 08221
Facebook Page @freeholderfitzpatrick
Twitter @carenfitzpatty
Top issues in Atlantic County continues, as they have for the long past, to be jobs, taxes and the economy. Until we can figure out how to employ more people and entice more to move here, we will continue to suffer with this. Our population has decreased over the past eight years, making fewer people responsible for the tax burden of the County.

Additionally, we are an extremely environmentally sensitive area and we must pay attention to climate change and how it impacts flooding. We have main roadways which flood monthly, and residentail areas which flood in relation to high tides, sometimes preventing childdren from getting to school.
I've been managing multi million dollar budgets and financial reporting for more than two decades. I've created jobs, made effort to use existing assets to create new or improved revenues, and created efficiencies to reduct expense.

I’m empathetic but smart. I’m cautious but not afraid to lead. I know a good spend versus a bad one, and I have varied life experiences that enable me to understand how certain decisions will affect people in their everyday lives.
I asked the Freeholders in June to take an implicit bias training as our annual continued education, and as leaders to set an example for our residents. The answer was, “there’s no racism here in Atlantic County because if there were, I’d be part of it.”. I was then advised to review the hiring practices of the County HR department. This explains, at a foundation level, the problem. Legislated hiring practices are not the same as implicit bias. I will continue to try to explain this to anyone who will listen.

I support current legislation requiring this training for police officers, but I would add that all government employees and elected officials also undergo the training.
We now have a basic layout of responding to pandemic: testing, quarantining. I think the County could go further by offfering more testing locations and providing support to hungry families who have lost their income. We should create a reserve of personal protective equipment for schools and county workers, and have enough to support municipalities which may run short. Ideally, the County would be a safety net for the local governments.

I think the economic impact can be lessened by exploring the trend of working people coming here to work remotely for their New York and Philadelphia jobs, or jobs anywhere worldwide, really. We can market to exploit that situation, and have high earners stay here while alleviating the tax burden without millions of dollars of investment. Its already happening, we can give the situation a push to our advantage.
Campaign Address 2106 NEW ROAD, STE. A-6 P.O.BOX 293
Campaign Email
Our local economy...Jobs. That is why I have taken the lead on developing The National Aviation Research and Technology Park in Egg Harbor Township. I did this by serving on the 4 County South Jersey Economic Dev. District which I was the rep. from Atlantic County. Taking the SJEDD from bankruptcy to success and transferring the Technology Park to Atlantic County.
I'm fortunate to have a catalog of experiences from serving my entire life as a public servant. I'm serving in my 19th year in County Government as a Freeholder and have previously served as a Councilman in Linwood, Somers Point and Egg Harbor Township and as a past President of the Mainland Regional Board of Education. As the owner of a small personal investment company. I have been in the investment securities business for over 40 years. I am keenly aware of Economics, Jobs and Business Trends.
Approximately 1/3 of our County Budget is spent on numerous social programs. I am a strong advocate of educational and training programs. I have always promoted diversity. As a Christian I truly believe that we are all Gods Children.
We have done testing. Securing PPE materials. Researching various vendors that will give us the most effective results and making changes when necessary. Regular updates on our local hospitals and County Nursing Home.
Campaign Address Friends of James Toto 1616 Pacific Ave Ste 407 Atlantic City Nj 08401
Campaign Email
Facebook Page
The biggest issues facing Atlantic County are tied to reducing the skills gap and diversification of our economy. These issues are the first step in helping foster a climate of meaningful economic development for our residents. For too long we as a state have watched the best and brightest from our high schools leave the area to start the next chapter of their lives. I am an ardent supporter promoting a more diverse Atlantic County economy, clearly, in today's world, we have seen the impact of a shuttered hospitality industry and the disproportionate effect on our economic well being. As a recreational fixed-wing and rotary aircraft pilot I am excited to see the county work to develop the Aviation Park. given my flying background as well as my prior experience in airport construction at both Mercer County Airport and Hammonton Municipal have firsthand knowledge at the economic impact that the aviation industry can provide Atlantic County.
As a young man, I have proudly served our nation in the United States Army, after September 11th I once again answered our nation's call serving as a Federal Air Marshal. Since then I have proudly worked in the Ocean City public works department. One of the counties biggest functions is infrastructure for roads and bridges. As someone who between service to our nation has worked in the construction industry, I understand the need for infrastructure maintenance. That knowledge coupled with my aforementioned experience in the aviation industry will be a tremendous asset to the Freeholder board as the aviation park continues its development
It is imperative that in these trying times for our nation that we remember that we were all created equal. In a nation where we have the free will to be anything, it is most important to be kind. We have the privilege to live in one of the most diverse counties in one of the most diverse states in the union. As a freeholder I will work to provide services and awareness for all county residents, I firmly believe that education is one of the best modes to help provide equality of opportunity, in both higher and vocational education.
As a sitting Somers Point Councilman, I worked on securing Covid-19 testing for municipal employees as well as our volunteer fire company. It was imperative to me that we provide frequent testing for our hard-working employees as well as the brave men and women of the fire company. As a freeholder, I will work hard to ensure that our residents are provided with information during times of crisis. I will also work diligently in providing ample funds to ensure that whatever the next crisis we face as a county, we have the resources to deal with it.