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

The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of seven members who serve three year staggered terms. They serve as the legislators for the county. In 2020, two members will be elected. The name of the position will be changed from Freeholder to County Commissioner starting in 2021.

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  • Ramon M. Hache
    (Dem)

  • Ronald F. Kistner
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Simone Tsigounis
    (Rep)

  • Joan M. Voss
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

To your knowledge, what has been the effect of the pandemic on county government services and how should that be addressed in the next budget?

Because of the pandemic, public transportation in Bergen County is a more serious issue than ever. What measures should be taken to protect riders and drivers? What are your thoughts for specific improvements or changes?

The perception is that social and racial justice in our county, and our country, is in need of improvement or reform. Do you agree? How would you seek public input to pursue improvements in social and racial justice in our county?

If elected as a Freeholder/County Commissioner, would you support the purchase of new voting machines that provide a paper trail and are not subject to hacking?

If elected, during your 3-year term, what issue would you like to focus on and how would you go about doing that?

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Education Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Juris Doctor, Rutgers Law School.
Qualifications/Experience Three-term Cresskill Council Member, Fourteen years with Planning Board preceded by seven years on Zoning Board
This pandemic has spread thin county services to our bravest citizens; our police, firemen, first responders and VETS; as well as to our more vulnerable seniors and developmentally challenged. We must address this by disseminating accurate information and through better preparation. Amongst lessons learned is the value of listening to experts and the responsibility to protect our citizens from the threat of the next pandemic. My running mate, Ron Kistner, and my service as Council Members has strengthened our conviction that we must invest in social capital; our network of relationships which allows our communities to function effectively. As an architect teamed with Ron’s experience, we can articulate the evidence that equitable community engagement helps our constituents’ value and protect their resources to ensure they will endure if the worst happens. In our war against COVID-19 let us remember that America’s victory in WWII was forged by belief that we fought in social solidarity.
This pandemic has made public transportation a serious issue in Bergen County and across the nation. Moreover, COVID-19 has catapulted our transit workers and cleaning staff into essential workers. They provide a life-preserving service making it possible for other essential workers to get to work. In recognition of this reality, transit authorities must ensure their workers and riders feel safe and cared for. As a Planning Board member, coupled with Ron’s experience as Administrative Officer, our thoughts for specific improvements include increasing the frequency of service in neighborhoods dependent on public transportation; protecting bus drivers and cleaning crews with masks and sanitizing supplies; constructing floor-to-ceiling barriers on buses to protect drivers and, until then, require that riders board at the rear door; mandate masks at bus stops, stations, and on vehicles; and install tape at bus stops, stations, and on vehicles to help riders maintain a safe social distance.
Ron and I agree the perception in our county and our country is that social and racial justice is in need of improvement or reform. Moreover, we feel this perception is magnified by leaders who are perpetuating a permanent state of pain and suffering by harboring racism in people’s minds. As seen in recent weeks, the effect of social and racial injustice does not stay in the epicenter but affects the community. To stop this, we would seek public input by creating opportunities for the inclusion of divergent voices in which professionals, stakeholders, and end-users work in partnership with one another; sharing learning, building trust, and being responsive. We must all acknowledge the fundamental understanding that to improve social and racial justice we need to invest in each other’s wellbeing and pursue policies which foster self-initiative; not suppression. It is only through one’s inner drive to work hard and excel, that social and racial justice will be achieved.
If elected as Freeholder/County Commissioner, in lieu of purchasing new voting machines, my running-mate and I would support funding programs which educate our citizenry to increase their understanding of major policy issues. Programs should be introduced an early age and include civics-related topics such as how our Founding Fathers created the nation and what every citizen’s rights are under the U.S. Constitution. Elections are our chance to stand up for what matters most to us and to have an impact on the issues that affect us: our communities, our families, and our future. Ron and I believe in democracy; that it is of the people, for the people, and by the people. Because of this, the people must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives and we must make this knowledge readily available. Moreover, we would support strict ID laws to ensure that elections have the integrity and security they deserve. Our argument is that the issue lies not with machines, but with education.
As an architect and attorney, with Ron’s municipal skills, we would focus on reforming our community planning policies: repairing crumbling infrastructure, fair housing policies, accessibility for all, sustainable design, and healthier neighborhoods. To do this, we will start with the premise that community stakeholders are the experts on their own lived experiences and dreams. We will focus on equitable community engagement; bridging the gap so that underrepresented people become decision-makers on how their communities look and function. That is why the definition of community is so important. Broken down, it’s the “common unity” that brings us together. Moreover, inextricably linked to our communities are our vocational schools and community colleges. Our communities’ future competitiveness depends on attracting talented diversified students who master skills which meet the changing needs of local industry. We must invest in these schools whose graduates invest in our communities.
Current elected position Bergen County Freeholder
Education BA in English/History and MA in Education from Montclair State University, EdD in Education from Fordham University, 66 Combined Credits in English and History
Qualifications/Experience 41 Years in Education, Served 8 Years in the NJ Assembly, Served 9 years on Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholder, Served 10 years Fort Lee Town Council
Facebook Page Joan Voss
Campaign Email dcbced@gmail.com
Campaign phone 201-487-0001
When the pandemic first began, Bergen County was one of the hardest hit places in the country and had the first recorded coronavirus case in the state. We partnered with New Bridge Medical Center to conduct thousands of COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests through a community mobile testing program at locations throughout the county. Utilizing $162 million in funding from the federal CARES Act, we launched grant programs to provide direct relief to small businesses impacted by the shutdown and to assist our towns with fighting the virus and keeping residents safe on the local level. Through our municipal relief program, all 70 towns were eligible to receive the help they needed to support front line healthcare workers and first responders. As we look at ahead, the steps we are taking now, and continued vigilance, will put us in the best possible position for next year’s budget.
While the county does not have any control over public transportation like NJ TRANSIT, which is a state-run system, we do provide many community transportations services. The county has significantly increased the number of recipients for the Meals on Wheels program. On any given day, we are delivering between 300-800 meals to residents. In addition, community transportation provides approximately 250 rides per day to residents for medical visits and for veteran trips to the VA.

For county community transportation services, we’ve put in place the following health and safety measures:  All drivers are required to wear a mask.  Only one passenger per trip is allowed.  A Plexiglas divider and spit guards have been installed between the driver and the passenger area.  Both the driver and passenger have their temperature checked before getting on board. Drivers also get their temperatures checked at the end of the day.  The vehicle is wiped down with sanitizer between each trip.
There is no place for hatred and racism in our communities. In all that we do, we must ensure that everyone who calls Bergen County home is treated with equal dignity and respect. I support the many Bergen County residents who have taken this moment to peacefully raise their voices for change and for justice and equality, and encourage all residents to speak out on these important issues. Additionally, as a county that is proud of its diversity, it’s important that our many diverse groups and communities all have a formal voice in county government. I will always support community participation and look to our many community advisory boards and commissions for input and advice.
The right to vote is our most important democratic right as citizens. Protecting the right to vote and the integrity of our elections includes making sure voting is conducted in a safe, secure process – including a voter-verifiable paper audit trail.
As a Freeholder, my focus is and always has been education. I taught for 41 years and when I asked my students what the most important thing they learned – the answer is always reading. When you can read the world is open to you. Most people do not realize that more than 30 million people in this country, including about 150,000 Bergen County residents cannot read. That’s why I’m a big supporter of literacy programs in the county. Additionally, as a Freeholder I’ve worked to strengthen funding for Bergen County College and programs for special needs students, and to close the digital divide by improving access to high speed internet for low income students. In Bergen County, we’re also very proud that our county run schools, Bergen County Academies and Bergen County Technical High School, are two of the top high schools in the entire country.