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Middlesex County Freeholders 1999

1999 VOTERS GUIDE

NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION

Vote Tuesday, November 2, 1999

CANDIDATES FOR MIDDLESEX COUNTY
BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area is a nonpartisan, non-profit volunteer organization which works to promote active, informed participation of all citizens in their government. The League provide nonpartisan information on public issues, and takes action on issues after member study and consensus. In publishing this material, the League neither endorses nor rejects the views of any candidate quoted.

All candidate information in this guide was compiled from candidates' responses to questionnaires. Replies are printed in the candidates' own words, without editing or verification. Due to space limitation, the candidates were given a word limit for replies. Words in excess of the limit are deleted and indicated by a bullet (O). Incumbents are indicated by an asterisk (*).

Reprinting of this guide in part or in whole is not permissible without written permission of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.

Copyright 1999 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following three questions to all candidates for Freeholder:

1. Middlesex County has identified numerous parcels of land for open space, yet there is a limited amount of resources available to acquire these lands. Please describe your plans on how the Freeholders could come up with creative ways to acquire these lands, including any additional sources of revenue. How can the process be accelerated before these lands are swallowed up by development? How do we ensure funds are distributed fairly among townships?

2. Many members of the public are not aware that open space preserved with state funding can, under certain circumstances, be used for private commercial use with the approval of the county and the state. Under what conditions would you, as a county freeholder, approve the use of Green Acres land by a private enterprise such as mining or resource extraction?

3. The Middlesex County Improvement Authority was formed by the Freeholders in 1990 and currently has a budget of approximately $30 million. Their numerous responsibilities include the recycling program and operating the open space fund. Do you feel there is any risk in turning over so many government operations to a non-elected board not accountable to the voters? Please explain.

 

CANDIDATES FOR MIDDLESEX COUNTY
BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS

Vote for TwoTerm: 3 yearsSalary: $20,675

AUDREY CORNISH
Party: Republican
Age: 54
Address: 431 School House Rd., Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Education: Nursing School

Occupation: Thoroughbred Race Horses

Community Activities: Parents Association, Rutgers Preparatory School; Garden State Games Swimming and Diving

Answers:
1. Freeholders could request developers to donate to the county open space parcels of land that contribute to the continuance of the open space policy in that town instead of an impact fee.

2. I would never approve Green Acres land for private enterprises or allow wet land exchanges.

3. There is no need for an Improvement Authority except to circumvent the law that requires open bidding.

 

DAVID B. CRABIEL*
Party: Democratic
Age: 69
Address: 6 Harkins Road, Milltown, NJ 08850

Education: North Brunswick, High School

Occupation: Funeral Director

Community Activities: I am a member of the following: Milltown Seniors Citizens Club, AARP, Past commander of Perry-Worthge Post #173, now Joyce Kilmer Post #25, American Legion Milltown, Member and Past Pres. Milltown Lions Club.

Answers:
1. Since I sponsored the creation of the Middlesex County Open Space Trust Fund, we have used every opportunity to leverage additional state and local funds to maximize the number of acres of open space preserved. At this time we have preserved 4,000 acres. Additionally, we have taken steps to borrow nearly $50,000,000 using open space tax proceeds as debt service. At the beginning of the Open Space Trust Fund all of our towns were requested to submit a "wish list" of projects within their municipality. Projects submitted were evaluated by our Open Space Advisory Board and prioritized according to established and published criteria.

2. Middlesex County would not, under any circumstances, allow property purchased with the Open Space Trust Fund to be used by a private enterprise for mining, resource extraction, or any other incompatible use.

3. The Middlesex County Improvement Authority (M.C.I.A) is a public body. Board members are appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. They are subject to the Open Public Meetings Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and Public Purchasing Laws. The Improvement Authority has a project -oriented budget and each project undertaken is required to have a revenue stream sufficient to pay capital and operating costs for that project. The M.C.I.A. has no taxing power nor do they receive any non-project related property tax subsidy from the county of local governments. The M.C.I.A. has developed in its professional staff a pool of expertise, which they make available to county and local Government. It would be inordinately expensive if the county and each municipality had to duplicate a similar pool for expertise. The Improvement Authority is fully accountable to any government-state, county, or local-for which it has undertaken projects.

 

CAMILLE FERNICOLA*
Party: Democratic
Age: 57
Address: 237 Westfield Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854

Education: Middlesex County College, Business Administration; Associate in Automation Management; General Insurance Certification; Certified Property/Casualty Underwriter Coursework

Occupation: Business Analyst at a Major Insurance Company located in Middlesex County

Community Activities: Freeholder since 1997; Freeholder Liaison to Departments of Engineering & Planning, Committees of Open Space, Planning Board, Transportation Coordinating Committee, Urban Forestry, Farmland Preservation, Solid Waste Advisory, Housing & Community Development, Census 2000; Piscataway Council Member, 15 years; Middlesex County Democratic Committee, 27 years; Community Volunteer, 7 years; Member, League of Women Voters, 20 years

Answers:
1. In 1995, the voters of Middlesex County approved an open-space referendum dedicating one penny per $100 of county taxes for the purchase of land. Together with any Green Acres dollars, sharing the cost of land with municipalities, accepting donations from land owners, and using the dedicated funds for "seed" money to finance acquisition, we have acquired more than 3,000 acres of open space since early 1997 when I assumed the leadership of the County open-space program. Were racing against the clock and the great desirability of the area for businesses and residences.

2. Ill always find it hard to justify what I consider the "rape" of any public land for mining or resource extraction. I know mining and resource extraction has been practiced on public and state land in the past, but that does not make it right. Sand, for instance, is in the earth for a reason. To remove it would, in my opinion, jeopardize the quality of the water and ecological balance. Only under extreme national or state emergency would I even consider removal or resources from publicly dedicated land.

3. I honestly do not know how else we could have accomplished all the good things we have in such a short amount of time since the MCIA was formed. We are a vibrant, ever-changing county. We are always striving to improve the quality of life for our citizens. I consider the MCIA as the professional, flexible support system we need to accomplish our goals for the future. In so many ways, the MCIA is ready to bring our plans and goals to fruition. The results are commendable. The MCIA is accountable to the Freeholders who are accountable to the voters.

 

ROBERT ORAS
Party: Republican
Age: 51
Address: 25 Jefferson Ave., Edison, NJ 08837

Education: Jersey City State College, B.A.

Occupation: Jersey City Police Department, 29 years; Police Officer, 25 years; Civilian Employee, 4 years; Police Academy Director/Training Bureau Commander, Currently administers to the training needs of the 900 man Police Department

Community Activities: Member, Fraternal Order of Police; Member, Police Academy Directors Association; Member, Police Superior Officers Association, retired; Member, Police Officers Benevolent Association, retired; Member, Knights of Columbus #9199; Member, Our Lady of Peace Parish

Answers:
1. Simply identifying parcels of land for open space is not enough in Middlesex County. Middlesex County must establish a bipartisan effort of prominent institutions that agree with the concept of preserving open space. As an elected Freeholder, I will encourage people, ranging from the Sierra Club to religious groups to major corporations to share in the responsibilities of identifying financial resources and strategies for all open space planning and development. Each social institution will help become a "watchdog" to ensure the equity of all current and future funding. Open space must be designed for maximum participation from people with the greatest authority, power and control outside of politics. (O)

2. I would find it very find it very difficult to approve a private enterprise dealing with mining of resource extraction in any dedicated open space category. I am sure there may be certain circumstances within the law to allow a county to change its open space policy. However, I see no place in Middlesex County where this can happen at this time.

3. The Middlesex County Improvement Authority has been misguided and mismanaged with the intent to create policies that should be given to elected officials. The Middlesex County Improvement Authority should be abandoned. There is no doubt in my mind that non-elected boards have been created to divert attention away from the elected officials so as to create an illusion that the officials are not accountable to the public. Essentially, the Middlesex County Improvement Authority is an extension of the Middlesex Democratic Party that dictates policies for the Authority. Unfortunately, services and contracts awarded by the Authority to various people and organizations are invariably aligned with the politics of Middlesex County. The Buck should stop with the elected official. Any elected official should be synonymous with leadership. This is not to say that non-elected boards do not have a purpose, but non-elected boards should not be a covert operation for political leaders.