[OPINION] Union County Needs Freeholder Districts

Marc A. Krauss

Marc A. Krauss

by Marc A. Krauss

Freeholder Daniel Sullivan, while serving as a Chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2010, said “Freeholder Districts are for losers,” when questioned by a Union County resident about creating a system direct representation as opposed to the current at-large representation in Union County. You can watch his comment online on You Tube.

Besides,the disrespectful tone in which he answered, I thought it was an interesting statement from an elected official who claims to represent everyone, but called all non-Democrats in the county losers.

So which Freeholder represents you? According to Freeholder Sullivan, all nine of them do. Do they really?

The current freeholders reside in the following townships: Sullivan and Estrada from Elizabeth, Carter of Plainfield, Hudak of Linden, Mirabella of Fanwood, Jalloh of Roselle, Kowalski of Cranford, Bergen of Springfield and Wright of Union. The center of gravity for the All-Democrat Board of Freeholder is the eastern part of Union County.

The ironic part of the idea of Freehold Districts is that 11 of the 21 municipalities in Union County have representation based on wards (districts). These 11 municipalities comprise 72% of the population of Union County. Are 387,562 Union County residents losers, Mr. Sullivan? The funny part is that Sullivan and five of his fellow Democrat Freeholders reside in municipalities that have wards and each of them has voted for a direct representative at the local level. So, why not at the county level?

There are only four counties in New Jersey that have nine member board of freeholders; Union, Atlantic, Hudson, and Essex counties. Neighboring Hudson County has nine districts for a population of 634,000,  100,000 more residents than Union County. Our other neighbor, Essex County, has five districts and four At-Large freeholders with a population of 783,000 with 250,000 more residents than Union County.

Atlantic County has five districts and four At-Large freeholders for a population of 275,000 with 250,000 less residents than Union County. What is also interesting to note about Atlantic, Hudson and Essex Counties that they each elect a county executive whereas the Union County Freeholders appoint a county manager, a party patronage position.

Who gains and who loses if Union County Freeholders are directed elected from nine districts?

More than likely, based on current voter registration demographics; 42% are Democrats, 44% are Unaffiliated and 15% are Republicans, the Democrats would still hold the majority on the board of freeholders, with 1 or 2 districts going to the Republicans and 1 or 2 districts possibly up for grabs or even a third party entering mix. What is created is a balanced directly representative form of government in Union County.

Union County residents would have 1 freeholder representative who actually lives in their district to turn to. Union County would only have to deal with three districts each election cycle instead of county-wide freeholder at-large elections.

The winners in all of this are the residents of Union County. The real loser is Sullivan for making such a lame statement to a Union County resident.

I and my running mates Mark Martini, and Ira Geiger support Freeholder Districts because we believe that Union County has outgrown freeholders elected at large and it is time for balanced representation on the board of freeholders.

Krauss is a Republican candidate for Union County Freeholder and a retired U.S. Army major.

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