Democratic Candidate Susan Williams of Sparta. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Democratic Candidate Jim Tighe of Wantage. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Three of the Sussex County Freeholder Candidates (left to right): Jim Tighe, Susan Williams, and Chris Kelly. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The crowd waiting to hear the candidates speak at the George Inn in Vernon. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sally Rinker, Vernon Chamber of Commerce, introduces the candidates. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Republican Candidate Chris Kelly of Hamburg. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sussex County Freeholder Candidates Participate In ‘Meet and Greet’
Friday, May 25, 2012 • 6:40am
VERNON, NJ – Several of the candidates for the Sussex County Freeholder race attended a “Meet and Greet” event yesterday evening at Vernon’s George Inn on Route 94.
The “Meet and Greet” was coordinated by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce.
Republican Candidate Chris Kelly of Hamburg, and Democratic Candidates Susan Williams of Sparta, and Jim Tighe of Wantage, were in attendance.
Unable to attend the event were Freeholder Candidates Gail Phoebus of Andover Township, Helen Le Frois of the Town of Newton, and Dennis Mudrick and Donald Ploetner II, both of Sparta.
Members of the public mingled with the candidates prior to and after the event. Each candidate had an opportunity to speak to attendees.
First up was Williams, who explained why she decided to run.
“I’m very concerned about the turn this country is making,” Williams said. “I say to my kids, ‘I’m sad you’re not being raised in the country I was.’”
William, who said her children were born and have been raised in the county (she grew up in the Bronx), said, “I am concerned about what is being cut. The cuts are coming from above and trickling down. We have to decide what we want.”
The situation with the Sussex County Homestead was what appeared most troubling to Williams.
“I think there are other ways,” Williams commented in terms of alternatives to selling the nursing home.
“You have to understand budgets, but you have to understand basic needs. Money is the number one concern, when making decisions, and we can’t put dollars above people,” she said.
“People have presented ideas to keep it going, and part of our job is really to listen to people,” Williams added. “It’s very important to listen and evaluate and reassess. I believe I bring these qualities and values to the table.”
Tighe, the second candidate to speak, introduced himself as 31 years old, an employee of All County Window Cleaning, and that he earned his bachelor’s degree from William Paterson University, and Associate’s from Sussex County Community College.
“I’ve been interested in civic engagement and public services for a dozen years now,” said the 1999 Vernon Township High School alumni.
“This county’s given me so much I want to give back to it,” Tighe said. “This isn’t a republican or democratic issue, this is a Sussex County issue.”
“It’s the budget cuts at the college that are really personal to me,” he added.
In terms of the Sussex County Homestead, he asked. “What if you privatize the Homestead. What’s next? Privatize S.C.C.C?”
Kelly, a councilman in Hamburg, said he grew up in Newton, and has been a Hamburg resident for 25 years.
“I’m not a CEO or high-level administrator, I’m a blue collar worker,” Kelly emphasized.
He discussed how the county lost $2.3 million to Ameripay when they self-insured, and thought it appropriate when in 2011, the current freeholder board veered away from that.
The Sussex County Homestead is something Kelly is passionate about, having worked there for 21 years.
SCMUA is a hot topic for Kelly, who is concerned about the $18 million debt he said the landfill holds, and, another $18 million it is anticipated to garner upon closure.
He believes the budget cuts for the college should match the enrollment patterns.
“As long as enrollment is down, the budget should be down, and as it inclines, it should be increased,” Kelly said.
“We need someone in there who is working for the people of Sussex County and not the party bosses,” Kelly said.
The New Jersey Herald and the League of Women Voters are sponsoring a debate between the candidates on Tuesday, May 29 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, at the Newton Theatre, on Spring Street in Newton.