Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian G. Burry has not decided whether or not she will seek a 6th term on the County’s governing body.
First elected in the wake of U.S. Attorney Chris Christie’s Operation Bid Rig II in 2005, Burry has been a leader in the transformation of Monmouth County government and the Monmouth GOP from a corrupt swamp to a beacon of good government. In 2005 , the Asbury Park Press had an ongoing investigative series, Club Monmouth, into the wasteful patronage of Monmouth County government. This year, the APP editorial board said, “It isn’t easy finding major weaknesses in the way the county has been run in recent years. Spending has been kept in check and the county has maintained a triple-A bond rating. It takes shared services between towns seriously and it has made concerted efforts to improve the climate for small businesses. The county also has one of the finest park systems in the state.” Lillian Burry has been a huge contributor to the reforms which warranted those accolades from a critical source.
Burry, who will turn 84 next month, is a champion of Open Space, Historic Preservation, Parks, the Library System, Veterans and Law Enforcement. She was the first female director of the Monmouth Freeholder Board in 2008. She also served as director in 2010 and 2017.
When announcing her reelection bid in 2017, Burry told MMM that she enjoys doing the work of a freeholder but did not relish a campaign or the prospect of being challenged for the nomination at a GOP convention. She was challenged for the 2014 nomination by Bob Walsh of Howell and the Monmouth Dems ran a filthy campaign against her that year. Then Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal blamed Burry for the crimes of former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham and her opponent, Larry Luttrell, blamed her for Operation Bid Rig and the crimes of former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas.
She and Pat Impreveduto defeated Bernard Dowd and Susan Metz in the GOP primary in 2017 and went on to defeat Democrats Brain Wilton and Margie Donlon in the general election.
Now she says she enjoys achieving the goals she has worked hard on much more than the work itself. “Some days I wake up and think, ‘You don’t really need this’,” Burry said in a phone interview yesterday. “Other days I think, ‘There’s still life left in you’.”
Widespread encouragement to run again is making her decision very difficult. “We need you,” she said she was told by State Senator Robert Singer.
Regardless of what she decides regarding seeking reelection between now and the yet to be announced deadline to file for the Monmouth GOP nominating convention, Burry is looking forward to bringing three major projects she has worked on for many years to fruition in 2020.
Soldier On, a 70 unit housing project for homeless veterans will open in Tinton Falls. Burry has been working on bringing the non-profit to Monmouth County since the late Edith T. Knowles brought the organization to her attention in 2010. Burry credits former Tinton Falls mayor Gerry Turning for securing the land near Seabrook Village for the project after her efforts to locate the project at Fort Monmouth was thwarted by municipal officials in Oceanport and Eatontown and by the cost of Fort Monmouth property. The property was donated to Tinton Falls by Seabrook and the borough entered a long term lease for $1.00 with Soldier On.
MAST expansion on Sandy Hook. This project combines two long time passions of Burry….the preservation and rehabilitation of Fort Hancock and the educational opportunities provided by the County’s vocational high schools. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology will complete the rehabilitation of two historic Fort Hancock buildings in 2020 and use them for classroom and office space.
The intersection of County Road 537 and State Highway 34 in Colts Neck. The expansion and improvement of this highly traveled intersection has been a project of Burry’s for almost 20 years since she was the mayor of Colts Neck. Construction, which started in 2017 is largely completed. Burry said the landscaping will be finished in the Spring of 2020. She credits Congressman Chris Smith for securing federal funding for the project and former State Senator Jennifer Beck for securing state funding and approvals. Burry credits Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore for shepherding the project.
Whatever Burry decides regarding seeking a 6th term, her impact on the quality of life in Monmouth County is substantial and undeniable. In 2020 she will either be reelected or she will take an well deserved victory lap throughout the year and be deservedly honored for her many contributions.