FREEHOLD –After mulling over a State Assembly run for an opening in the 13th District, Monmouth County Freeholder Gerry P. Scharfenberger has officially thrown his hat into the ring.
The seat he seeks belongs to Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, a Middletown native like Scharfenberger who took office in 2006. In October, Handlin announced she’d be stepping down from her legislative post.
In an interview with The Two River Times, Scharfenberger said serving in the Assembly had always interested him.
“I didn’t think an opportunity like this one would come so soon and I’m also not sure another opportunity like this will ever present itself to me,” Scharfenberger explained.
When Handlin announced her plan to retire, Scharfenberger, a Republican, was engaged in a heated run for a one-year unexpired term on the county Freeholder Board against Democrat Larry Luttrell.
Scharfenberger will run alongside Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso of Holmdel (R-13), whose Freeholder seat he was appointed to fill last February when she won her seat in the state Legislature.
Since winning a special election in November for the one-year unexpired term he is currently serving, Scharfenberger was appointed as the Freeholder Board liaison to the county departments of Human Resources, Finance, Administration and Information Technology, as well as the Division of Weights and Measures and the Monmouth County Tax Board.
Scharfenberger said his experience serving at both the county level and in Middletown, where he was named mayor six times (2007-08, 2010, 2013, 2016-17), have prepared him well to serve in the State Assembly, should his run prove successful.
“In Middletown, I started on the land law committee, then the zoning board, then came elected office. I came up the ranks and have seen how these ideas that are entered into law really impact our local municipalities and an individual’s tax bill. It’s the result of legislation in Trenton and I hope I can be a voice of reason out there, someone who works with folks on both sides of the aisle.”
If elected, Scharfenberger noted his priorities would be to fix a pension system he said is “in big trouble,” provide better support for both small and large businesses, and to create more opportunities for shared services and municipal consolidation in order to drive down taxes.
Members of the Assembly serve two-year terms.
This article was first published in the Feb.7-14, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.