ELIZABETH — Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter announced a series of initiatives entitled “Helping our Families and Empowering Women” that are designed to jumpstart economic growth and help business, provide jobs training, improve public safety, encourage green practices and assist women.
Carter, a resident of Plainfield, was selected as Chairman of the Union County Freeholder Board for the first time in her career at the 156th annual reorganization meeting held Sunday in the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth. Carter becomes the first African American woman to ever lead the Union County Freeholder Board.
“I appreciate your confidence and look forward to working with you and our entire county family of employees to serve our residents and move our initiatives forward this New Year,” said Carter as she accepted the nomination. “For as Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to serve in the United States Congress once said, ‘Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.’ ”
Carter went on to outline her priorities.
“We must continue to be proactive in addressing our public safety and emergency management concerns,” Carter said. “We must also continue to make economic progress and provide opportunities for our residents, while promoting the green economy.”
Looking ahead at the new budgetary cycle, Carter also called upon the Policy Committee to conduct an exhaustive review of all workforce and operational policies to ensure our government operates in the most efficient and economic manner possible.
Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, of Fanwood, and Freeholder Mohamed S. Jalloh, of Union, were sworn in to new terms and Freeholder Bruce Bergen, of Springfield, was sworn in to his first term. Freeholder Christopher Hudak, of Linden, was appointed Vice Chairman of the Freeholder Board.
Freeholders also voted to fill numerous positions on county advisory boards and to adopt the board’s 2013 schedule and procedural rules.
Carter’s “Helping our Families and Empowering Women” include:
- Establishing the Union County Mayor’s Emergency Management group, which was formed during Hurricane Sandy, as a permanent platform for communication. During its last meeting, the group discussed a wide range of recommendations to explore in several critical areas that can be implemented in 2013 to improve emergency response.
- Conducting a countywide gun buyback program through County Police. While a gun buyback may not be a cure-all, Carter noted that’s as “leaders, we owe it to our residents to pursue all the strategies available at our disposal.” This includes supporting proposed legislation to limit the capacity of certain gun magazines in New Jersey.
- Jobs training and business assistance. Implement “Union County Choices,” a targeted jobs training program involving Union County College. Union County Choices is designed to provide a range of services targeted to middle skills and sector training. This program will give residents Choices focused on Union County’s priority economic development sectors. Courses would be in the priority fields of Healthcare/Allied Health, Transportation and logistics, and Retail/Hospitality. In the first instance, the county has worked with Union County College and the Community College Consortium to design four courses and two programs that should launch by February. The county is also developing an additional set of foundational courses covering basic—but valuable—elements related to health and safety.
- Continuing the “Union County Means Business” program by hosting an additional four forums. One of these forums will focus on the specific needs of women in business. The others will soon be determined through a survey which is currently underway. We also plan to host two industry specific roundtable discussions with assistance from New Jersey Talent Networks. These will be invitation only sessions with key business leaders in selected industries.
- Meeting with municipal library directors to develop business friendly endeavors such as seminars for small businesses, and raise awareness about existing services for small business.
- The county will encourage businesses to go green to save green. This year, the Bureau of Recycling and Planning received a grant that will enable it to conduct outreach to businesses on the benefits of recycling. The planned outreach will address not only what and how to recycle, but how recycling can actually save money.
- Several green initiatives: First, the county, through the Union County Improvement Authority, will explore a Community Energy Aggregation program designed to leverage the purchasing power of residents, business and governments to purchase low-cost electricity. If the program is implemented, Union County residents, businesses and governments could save as much as 15 percent on the electrical bills.
- Next, the county will take the lead in undertaking the development and implementation of a local government Energy Efficiency assistance program under the Energy Savings Improvement Program Law known as ESIP. The ESIP Law is an extremely valuable tool that allows local governments and boards of education to reduce energy consumption through the installation of energy efficient boilers, lights and HVAC equipment. It allows for financing these upgrades with the resulting operating budget savings generated by the newly installed equipment.
- In an attempt to raise awareness countywide, the county will double-purpose the Public Information Van as the Union County Green Information Van. The county will design a series of small cardstock flyers that link all of the sustainability-related programs in county departments and affiliates under one visual umbrella. At least one of those flyers will be designed as a shared service that our municipalities, businesses and other entities can use as a promotional tool in support of their green projects. The van will also receive one of the county’s first informational touch screen kiosks.
- Pursuing a partnership with a local Domestic Violence Shelter for battered women, our County College and Vo-Tech to provide training programs enabling these women to enter or re-enter the workforce and become self-sustaining and independent.
“We need to unlock the inner potential of these women, and we as a society will be better for it,” Carter noted. “For as Maya Angelou, once said, “’there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story in you.’’
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