FREEHOLD — The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders formally returned to exclusively Republican rule at its annual reorganization meeting, held last Thursday at the Biotechnology High School, Kosloski Road.
Freeholder John P. Curley will serve as director for 2012.
The defeat of incumbent Democrat Amy Mallet in November returned the five-member freeholder board to an exclusively GOP body, with former Spring Lake resident Gary Rich taking the seat formerly held by Mallet.
Re-elected incumbent Republican Lillian Burry is beginning her third three-year term on the freeholder board. Rounding out the all Republican lineup is Rosemarie Peters, who was sworn in for her second five-year term as county surrogate.
As Freeholder Director, Curley will preside over freeholder meetings and act as the board’s spokesman and representative during the year.
Curley failed in his first try for a freeholder seat in 2008, but was elected to the board the following year after serving for about five years on the Red Bank Borough Council.
He was first elected to the Red Bank Council as a Democrat. Shortly after changing his party affiliation to Republican, Curley established a reputation as a populist firebrand, regularly locking horns with other elected officials.
Curley continued to battle his political opponents during his tenure as a freeholder, at times butting heads with fellow Republicans.
Curley, a Middletown resident, who said his relationship with a family owned auto dealership allows him to function as a fulltime freeholder, told the capacity crowd that, “I will not entertain any new tax increases,” and pledged that he would “not remain silent in accepting the status quo.”
Last year, Curley was as strong critic of the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees’ handling of alleged financial improprieties by then college President Peter Burnham, which led to the ouster of some high level administrators, including the president.
A member of the county college’s board of school estimate (which oversees the college’s actions) Curley pledged, “It is my commitment to clean house at Brookdale once and for all,” vowing to replace all of the board of trustees members who were there during the upheaval and controversy of the last year.
In addition, Curley said, he plans on looking for ways to privatize some county services (including the operations of two of the county’s golf courses), hold the line on hiring and equipment purchases, sell off some assets (like the county owned and operated senior nursing facilities) all to provide some relief to taxpayers.
Freeholder Thomas Arnone, who was elected in 2010, was named as deputy director for 2012. Members of the board also offered its best wishes to Freeholder Robert Clifton, last year’s director who is moving on to the State Assembly in the newly redrawn 12th District, where he won a seat last November.
Mallet, Fair Haven, who was leaving the board after one three-year term, said she was not sure what she will pursue next.
“There are quite a few opportunities available to me,” she explained. “But I want to go where I can make the most difference.”
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