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Somerset County Freeholders 1999

1999 VOTERS GUIDE

NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION

Vote Tuesday, November 2, 1999

CANDIDATES FOR SOMERSET 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 2000 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area

Candidates for Somerset County Freeholder
(three year term) (vote for two)

CANDIDATES FOR SOMERSET COUNTY
BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS

Vote for Two
Term: 3 years

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

1. What effect will the Hightstown, Hillsborough, and Millstone Bypasses and Highway NJ92 have on Somerset County?

2. How would you use the State Plan to allocate the financial resources of Somerset County?

3. What do you identify as the major issues facing Somerset County Freeholders within the next three years?

 

PETER S. PALMER*
Party: Republican
Age: 63
Address: 22 Prospect Street, Bernardsville, NJ 07924

Education: Bernards High School; Cornell University, B.E.E.; Princeton University, M.S.E.; Fellow of the Society of Actuaries

Occupation: Actuary and commercial property owner

Community Activities: Mayor, Borough of Bernardsville - 10 years; Borough Council member - 16 years; Bernardsville Board of Education - 6 years; Founding member of the Somerset Hills Education Foundation; Volunteer Assistant Director of Bernards High School Marching Band - 40 years; Board member of Clinton Hill Area Redevelopment Corporation (low and moderate income housing, South Ward, Newark) - 22 years

Answers:
1. Effect of bypasses - Hightstown - negligible on Somerset County Hillsborough - Will allow Hillsborough to create an identifiable downtown main street and pedestrian oriented community center. Will provide Somerville and Raritan better access to Route 206. Millstone - Removes major through and turning traffic from the historic village of Millstone. Route 92 - I see little likelihood of this road ever being built and therefore no impact.

2. The State Plan discourages sprawl development and directs growth to established urban centers. In my initial run for office in 1996 I advocated doubling the open space tax to its now current level of three cents, and delivered on that the following year. Among the County and now eleven municipal open space taxes we have $14 million annually devoted to open space and farmland preservation. As Finance Chairman in my first year on the Board I developed an economic incentive investment program targeted to the older Boroughs in the center of the County to provide infrastructure improvements to leverage private non-residential investment in their business districts. This program is precisely aimed at the goals of the State Plan.

3. Maintaining Somerset Countys preeminence in the top five best places to live in the United States Managing our Open Space and Farmland Trust Fund to achieve maximum effectiveness in preserving open space. Providing a competent, well trained work force to staff our blue chip corporate citizens and enabling them to get to work.

 

REBECCA PERKINS
Party: Democratic
Age: 44
Address: 50 Casale Drive, South Warren, NJ 07059

Education: M.A. English Literature, Drew University; BSE, Education, Emporia State University (Emporia, KS)

Occupation: Vice President, Communications HealthCare Institute of New Jersey

Significant Community Activities: President, Warren Township Board of Education 1994-1995 (member 1992-1995); Member, Somerset County Open Space Advisory Committee 1998-present; Vice-Chair, Somerset Co. Chamber of Commerce 1996-1998 President, Board of Trustees, Somerset Treatment Services 1995-1999; Member Board of Directors, Resource Center for Women and Their Families 1999-1997; Somerset County Outstanding Woman of the Year, Business 1998

Answers:
1. The planned bypasses and Highway NJ92 may cancel each other out in achieving the desired effect of reducing traffic on Route 206. Traffic on 206 must be alleviated, but more planning needs to be done to see that communities are left intact. These transportation plans point out the need for regional planning, and more communication from the state with the municipalities and the county.

2. The State Plan sets some excellent goals for regional planning, transportation, and other issues, but lacks any real enforcement mechanisms. It does not even mandate cabinet level participation in planning efforts, which means that the state can ultimately overrule anything achieved on the county level. We need to move beyond vague statements about municipalities working together and determine how to enforce regional planning.

3. The three major issues are regional planning, the balancing of open space and development, and traffic. Enforced regional planning is the key to solving the open space issue, while allowing the county to continue the economic development that we need to maintain our standard of living. The traffic problem must be addressed now: our infrastructure simply cannot handle the volume of traffic we have now, let alone what we will have in three years.

JAMES B. VENTANTONIO
Party: Democratic
Age: 59
Address: 747 West Foothill Road, Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Education: J.D. Seton Hall Law School, B.A. Seton Hall University

Occupation: Attorney - Managing Partner, Ventantonio & Wildenhain Counsellors-At-Law Significant Community Activities: Former Chair, Somerset County Chamber of Commerce; Municipal Prosecutor; Bridgewater Planning Board; Vice Chair Somerset Alliance For The Future; Steering Committee - Regional Center Partners; Steering Committee - Economic Summits; Chair, Citizens Committee on Somerset Baseball Stadium; Former Law Professor - Seton Hall Law School; Former General Attorney - Bell Atlantic; Former Major - U.S. Army

Answers:
1. The bypasses and Highway 92 will, for a short time, ease traffic. But any long range solutions depend on an integrated Growth Plan for Somerset and contiguous counties. SMS reported recently without a regional solution we will be built out by 2020. We must implement a regional growth plan that refocuses development into areas of the county that need ratables, that have existing transportation infrastructure and allow retention and expansion of open spaces. We must recycle brown fields, return them to productivity and practice the development art of in filling construction in older communities. This means willingness to experiment with innovative solutions such as revenue sharing, regional economic development, and regional assets districts.

2. The State Plan is an aspirational goal without sufficient teeth or enforcement. The designation of regional centers is a start but the Plan side-stepped revenue sharing, and it has moved too slowly in designating centers. Historically, 170 year old legislation requiring same day elections and an 1893 statute mandating one school district per town pushed home rule, an albatross we still carry.

3. One major issue facing Somerset County Freeholders is the need for action. A one party system for over 30 years has lead to cautious action, over-spending and a propensity for planning versus action. Flood control plans have been worked over for thirty years without resolution and ask Bound Brook and Manville the result. In that time frame, the Republicans have controlled our Congressional delegation, our Legislative delegation and our Freeholder Board. We must have a bias for action to assist and support all the citizens of the county. Other issues are accountability for county budget. The newest budget increased by 13.66 million dollars. My management and business experience can help oversee and audit these accelerating costs.

 

BOB ZABOROWSKI
Party: Republican
No response received.