Continuing to reduce the size and cost of government while improving the quality of services and infrastructure was the theme of the day as Monmouth County’s leadership gathered yesterday before a standing room only crowd in the Biotech High School Auditorium in Freehold to reorganize the county government for 2017 and to swear in the victors of the November election.
Freeholders Serena DiMaso and Tom Arnone were each sworn into new three year terms, as was Sheriff Shaun Golden. Surrogate Rosemarie Peters was sworn into a new five year term. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno issued the Oath of Office to DiMaso and Golden. State Senator Joe Kyrillos administered the Oath for Arnone. Superior Court Assignment Judge Lisa P. Thorton presided over Peter’s pledge to uphold the Constitutions of the United States of America and New Jersey and perform the duties of her office to the best of her ability.
“Lot’s of politicians promise to reduce the size of government. We’ve done it and will continue to do it,” said Arnone during his remarks when he noted that the County Budget has declined by more than $20 million and that there are 1,000 fewer county employees since he took office in January of 2011.
“We treat your money as if it were our own,” said Freeholder Gary Rich, Sr, the freeholder in charge of finance, during his remarks.
“We reduced taxes last year, despite our opponents TV commercials to the contrary,” DiMaso said. “We actually did that. We are continuing to return the proceeds of the Care Centers to the taxpayers and are striving for another 0% tax increase in 2017.”
Freeholder Lillian Burry was elected Director of the Board by her colleagues. Freeholder John Curley was elected Deputy Director.
Burry, who’s fourth term on the board expires at the end of this year, kept her intentions for making a reelection bid close to her vest.
“I am honored to lead as Freeholder Director, and I promise to work tirelessly in the year ahead to make 2017 a successful year in Monmouth County,” said Director Burry. “I am proud to serve on a freeholder board whose members are truly devoted to making better lives and a stronger economy for the people of Monmouth County.”
In her prepared remarks, Burry noted how her response to unforeseen circumstances have shaped her successful tenure on the Board.
“It’s said that the best plans of battle rarely survive the first shot that’s fired. In other words, circumstances dictate actions and overwhelm intent. This is true in many arenas. When I first joined the Board of Chosen Freeholders there were things I wanted to accomplish. And while I’ve been fortunate in both the colleagues I’ve had who supported my goals and exceptional professionals who carried them forward, and, I’ll admit, my own stubborn persistence in pursuing them, it has also happened that I’ve served on the Board through some of the most traumatic experiences in the long history of Monmouth County,” Burry opened as she cited the Great Recession, Superstorm Sandy, and the closure of Ft. Monmouth as traumatic events in the county that she has responded to powerfully.
Burry noted that she created a Budget Advisory Committee to identify spending decreases in response to the Great Recession and she pointed to her ongoing work at Fort Monmouth, the “Soldier On” program for homeless veterans, and the redevelopment of Ft. Hancock on Sandy Hook as her projects in 2017.
Deputy Director Curley highlighted his work with the Department of Social Services in his remarks. Curley noted that there are 18,000 Monmouth County residents in the SNAP (food stamps) program and that he is committed to impacting homelessness in Monmouth County in 2017.
“As 2017 Deputy Director, I am humbled and excited to begin my eighth year as a County Freeholder,” said Curley. “I plan to continue our hard work from 2016 and strive for an even greater new year.”
“It is an honor and privilege to have been sworn in as the Monmouth County Sheriff for a third term,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden after taking the Oath of Office. “I look forward to serving all who live, work or visit this great county in an efficient and effective manner for another three years. We will continue to dedicate our efforts in fighting crime and focus on homeland security, school safety and the war on drugs, along with many other initiatives, so that Monmouth County remains the best that it can be.”
Golden noted that the Sheriff’s Office Budget was $68 million when he took the helm of the department seven years ago, and that it is $68 million today.
“I am pleased that the voters have given me another terms as their Surrogate,” said Peters. “I will continue to work with my excellent staff to help thousands of families through difficult times each year.”