Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French will retire in March.
French told MMM in a phone interview that she will decide by the end of this week whether her retirement will be effective on March 1 or March 31.
Appointed to fill the vacancy created by Jane Clayton’s retirement in 1997, French was elected to four 5 year terms. Had she completed her current term she would have served the residents of Monmouth County through the end of 2017.
French, 77, started her career in public service as a member of the Wall Township Committee where she served two terms as Mayor. She has held either elected or appointed office for 35 years serving as at every level of New Jersey government. French was the first Chair of the Monmouth County Improvement Authority, was Vice Chair of the Local Finance Board and has served on various regional authorities. She is a Eucharistic Minister at Holy Innocents Church in Neptune City.
French said the plans to continue her education at Brookdale Community College and pursue new challenges. “There is so much I want to do,” she said. She will stay involved in politics by working for candidates, “good people of either party” who will work for the best interest of the people and break the partisan gridlock she says is harming government on every level.
As one of three Constitutional county offices along with Sheriff and Surrogate, vacancies in the office of County Clerk are filled by an appointment by the Governor in consultation with the party leadership of the departing office holder, French, a Republican, said. The gubernatorial appointee would run for a full five year term in November.
Christine Giordano Hanlon is widely rumored to be GOP Chairman Shaun Golden’s recommendation to the Governor to fill the vacancy. A attorney with the firm Archer & Greiner, Hanlon is the Deputy Borough Attorney in Tinton Falls, the Municipal Prosecutor in Atlantic Highlands and a Commissioner on the Monmouth County Board of Elections. A member of Governor Christie’s transition team in 2009, Hanlon is a GOP State Committeewoman and a Regional Vice Chair of the Monmouth GOP. Hanlon was nominated by Christie to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, but like many of Christie’s appointments, not confirmed by the Democratic State Senate.
Neither Hanlon nor Golden were available for comment when we called.