Lots of Questions for the Freeholder candidates
Tomorrow evening the New Jersey Herald will be holding a public debate between the four candidates for Sussex County Freeholder. Voters will get to select two. The candidates are: Jonathan Rose, Republican; Carl Lazzaro, Republican; Harvey Roseff, Independent; and Robert Walsh, Independent. The Sussex County Democrats did not come up with a candidate for Freeholder this year.
The debate is being held at Newton High School. It begins at 6pm and will take about an hour.
Sussex County is in transition. With its tax base shrinking and job hunters moving away, there are a lot of issues that will have to be tackled by the next Freeholder Board. The solar scandal exposed the extent to which cronyism and back room dealing has corrupted the process of government in Sussex County. To address these issues moving forward, we need a county ethics committee, the registration of county lobbyists, and a clear ethics policy that every elected official, employee, and vendor signs off on.
Other issues that need to be discussed include the future of transportation in the county -- both in terms of improved roads and bridges with quicker repair schedules and mass transportation to points outside the county and within. How we address this will determine whether or not we will have the infrastructure to grow and provide jobs for our future.
Solid waste is another. The county has a great asset in its solid waste facility but past Freeholder Boards have wanted to sell it off to politically connected operators at a bargain basement price. We shouldn't allow it to become the next homestead nursing home sale -- with both the asset and the income, and now even the windfall, gone.
Transitional healthcare sounded good but it has to be re-examined to see whether or not it is a good deal for taxpayers. And part of that examination will have to be the relationships between health care corporations and county officials both past and present.
The county's 9-1-1 program has also ended up being less than advertised. We went from a program that worked to one that still works but costs a whole lot more. Some say a million dollars a year more, with half of Sussex County actually paying twice for the service.
Sussex County's solar debacle began as a sole bid contract. Sole bid contracts have become a usual and customary way of doing business in Sussex County. The biding process must be made more open -- both in transparency of process and in advertising bids.
These are just a few of the many issues that you need to ask questions about tomorrow evening. No doubt you have some of your own. Please take an hour out of your week and attend the debate, ask questions, and take back your county.
The rest of this week we will be looking at each of the four candidates for Freeholder, so stay tuned.