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Somerset County Freeholds and Surrogate 2000

2000 VOTERS GUIDE

NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION

Vote Tuesday, November 7, 2000

CANDIDATES FOR SOMERSET COUNTY
BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS
AND SOMERSET COUNTY SURROGATE

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. 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
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. Governor Whitman is proposing watershed management planning which would direct development to regions where water and sewer systems can handle additional volume. How would this proposed water protection rule affect development in Somerset County?

2. Many communities in Somerset County face rapid growth and increasing traffic. How would you, as a Freeholder, balance development, transportation issues, and preservation of open space?

3. Do you support widening the bridge at the Griggstown Causeway? Should an engineering study for this project be authorized?

 

RICK FONTANA*
Republican Party
Address: 1201 Crim Road, Bridgewater
Occupation: Vice President and Certified Financial Planner
Community Activities: Bridgewater-Raritan-Somerville First Night, Board of Directors, Member; Somerville Elks Member; Leadership Somerset, Board of Directors, Member

1. Governor Whitman's proposed water protection rule would add to the many tools we currently are using in Somerset to direct and control growth. We are just beginning our meetings concerning our watershed plan and expect to see more specific effects as we move into 2001. 
As with other planning documents, we look forward to taking a leadership role in the State.

2. We have for many years been coordinating the use of Open Space and Farmland purchases. As we continue those efforts, along with our first in the State Cooperative planning agreements, we feel that we can help to foster development where there is infrastructure rather than adding to the problem of sprawl. We also have sponsors in the Assembly and Senate to try to get passed enabling legislation for County Planning boards. This will enable them to have additional authority to plan on a wider regional basis allowing for a much more positive impact.

3. Widening the bridge at the Griggstown Causeway is an issue that has already been decided by the Freeholder Board. The residents outreach convinced the Board to repair and maintain the bridge as it presently is. But, if anything were to be done, I think it must be looked at on a broad regional basis.


KEVIN KOVACS
Democratic Party

Address: 27 Susquehanna Trail, Branchburg, NJ

Education: University at Albany, B.A. Political Science; Rutgers School of Law, J.D.

Profession: Partner in law firm of Purcell, Ries, Shannon, Mulcahy & O'Neill in Bedminster, NJ

Significant Community Activities: Vice President of Somerset County Bar Association; Board of Directors for Somerset/Sussex Legal Services; United Way Fund Distribution Volunteer; Of Counsel, Catholic Charities

1. The proposed rules regarding watershed management have laudable goals intended to improve water quality, control the direction of growth and establish water management policies. While I have not had the opportunity to study the 76 pages of rules in detail, I am concerned from what I have heard to date that they may actually lead to increased development and have an adverse impacton some sensitive areas of New Jersey including the Jersey shore. I understand that both business groups who are concerned about the anti-growth aspects of the rules and environmental groups are presently questioning the rules and I think the State should proceed carefully before 
adopting them.

2. The incumbents want to take credit for all that is good in our County but shift the blame when it comes to the most serious problems we deal with day to day: traffic and congestion. Their party has had exclusive control over the County Freeholder Board and Planning Board for 20 years during this unprecedented period of growth. As a Freeholder I will focus efforts on controlling growth, obtaining maximum infra-county and infra-municipality coordination and providing for incentives for cooperation.

3. The solution to our traffic problems is not to widen bridges and add lanes. The rule in New Jersey is that if you build another lane or widen a bridge, traffic will come and then you need another new lane or new bridge. To the extent safety is a concern, repairs to the Griggstown bridge should be made. Before widening it and adversely impacting yet another community, 
however, all other options should be explored.

 

REBECCA PERKINS
Democratic Party

Address: 50 Casale Drive, South, Warren, NJ

Education: MA, Drew University, English literature; Bachelor of Science in Education, Emporia State University (Emporia, KS)

Profession: Vice-President, Communications, HealthCare Institute of New Jersey

Significant Community Activities: Boards of Trustees of Friends of Somerset County Youth and Somerset Treatment Services; member, Advisory Board of Resource Center for Women and Their Families


1. The watershed management proposal is an attempt to enforce the StatePlan, which, when adopted in 1992, was intended to manage growth byproviding consistency in planning regulations. While this seems logical, Iam concerned that local governing bodies may lose their voice in the process. The State Plan is 8 years old, and I believe it needs to bere-evaluated to be certain that appeals processes are built in. Local and county officials should conform to the State Plan when possible, but should retain the ability to reflect local knowledge and desires in their
decisions.

2. When I ran for Freeholder last year, the overriding concerns were traffic and overdevelopment. Those problems have worsened since last year, and the current Board has failed to improve the situation. Somerset County's current master plan was last updated in 1986; it should be thoroughly reviewed and updated. Municipalities who plan with an eye toward the best interests of the county should be rewarded with county tax credits and grants; those that don't should pay economic penalties. As a Freeholder, I will be a strong advocate for property tax reform, which is at the root of overdevelopment. Until municipalities no longer have to chase every available ratable, this 
problem will continue to exist.

3. I am strongly opposed to widening the bridge at the Griggstown Causeway. Thanks to the opposition of vigilant local residents, the current Freeholders, who had initially approved the project, are reconsidering. Widening bridges and opening up traffic lanes only produces more traffic. Widening the bridge would merely transfer the transportation problems of other towns to Franklin. As Freeholder, I want to address traffic and transportation policies with a consistent, county-wide plan.

 

KEN SCHERER*
Republican Party

Address: 273 Willow Road, Belle Mead

Occupation: Owner, Belle Mead Nursery and Hillsborough Irrigation

Community Activities: Former Member, Hillsborough Rotary Club; Hillsborough Education Foundation Board Member; Former Fundraising Chairman Hillsborough YMCA; Former Coach-Youth Soccer, Baseball, Wrestling And Basketball; Somerset County Conference of Mayors Founding Member And First President; Member Somerville Elks

Responses:
1. Governor Whitman's proposal to link proposed sewer rules with the State's Master Plan for Development and Redevelopment is a good one. For years government agencies at all levels have been aware of New Jersey's State Plan but have not been able to enforce it. The new regulations will make it easy to obtain a permit for sewer service in areas already approved for sewer service like urban and suburban areas throughout Somerset County. This encourages redevelopment of our boros. They are a major goal of our Smart Growth Initiative. At the same time, the new rules will make it more difficult to acquire permits to install sewers in the more rural areas of our county. These areas are where we are aggressively instituting our Open Space Preservation Program.

2. This past June we proposed new legislation in Trenton which will give County Governments throughout the State more legal "control" of development. We will continue to work with all of our 21 municipalities and encourage them to plan "regionally". We endorse the goals and objectives of the State Plan which encourages new growth in the boros of our County while we preserve the remaining "open space" in the rural areas. At the same time, we have been very active in promoting mass transit initiatives like the West Trenton Passenger Line, the Ride Wise bus routes and the Davidson Avenue Shuttle.

3. After listening to the residents of the Griggstown area, along with careful consideration, we were convinced that to widen the bridge would be a detriment on that very pristine, environmentally sensitive and historic area. If any further engineering studies are to be performed, it will be to see where else we could possibly cross the river and canal and have less of a negative impact on that area of the County.

 

CANDIDATES FOR SOMERSET COUNTY
SURROGATE

Vote for One
Term: 5 years

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following tquestion to all candidates for surrogate:

1. What are your top three priorities, if elected?

FRANK BRUNO
Republican

Occupation: Union Carbide P.A.C.E. Safety, Health & Envirnmental Official


JULIE M. MARINO
Democrat

Address: 50 Clerico Lane, Hillsborough

Occupation: Family Law Attorney

Education: Undergraduate - Rutgers College; J.D. degree - Seton Hall Law School

Significant Community Activities:
Committee Person - Hillsborough Democratic Committee
Volunteer Attorney - Somerset-Sussex Legal Services
Volunteer Judge - Mock Trial Competition


Response:
Professionalism: The Surrogate's office deals with a host of legal and financial issues. The functions of the Surrogate's office should be accomplished with business-like efficiency, while not losing sight of the fact that the Surrogate's office provides a government service.

Compassion: The Surrogate's office is one of the few county government offices with which the public has direct contact. I will strive to put a human face on county government so that the people utilizing the services of the Surrogate's office know they are dealing with someone they
can trust.

Public Access: Public access to the Surrogate's office will be improved by the use of technology. We should explore the use of the internet and a website for the Surrogate's office to facilitate access by the public.