Freeholder Candidates Debate Economics, Energy and Ethics

The League of Women Voters sponsored a candidates' debate at Monmouth County Library Headquarters on Wednesday.

Monmouth County freeholder candidates fielded questions on job creation, renewable energy and ethics during a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters (LWV) Wednesday night. Freeholder Lillian Burry, R; Freeholder Amy Mallet, D; Gary Rich, R; William Shea, D; and Patrick Noble, I, participated in the forum held at in Manalapan. Independent candidate Tom Markowski did not attend.

The candidates are vying for two three-year Monmouth County Board of Freeholders terms that up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Economic Revitalization

Economic concerns were at the forefront of the debate, with two of the LWV’s prepared questions asking candidates how they would support the county’s equine industry and draw new business to compensate for the loss of Fort Monmouth.

Rich, a Spring Lake councilman who works as an account executive in the computer industry, said he would like to see regulations lifted off small businesses to encourage new growth.

“We have to put some certainty back into the business community. It’s very difficult out there. The main thing we need to do is have communication between the county freeholders and our state legislators. What we need for them to do is take some of the regulations off businesses to attract them to our area,” Rich said.

Shea, a retired New Jersey State Trooper who resides in Howell, said he believes the Fort Monmouth campus is suited for communication and technology companies. He explained that number of private sector jobs at businesses surrounding the fort provide opportunities for public-private partnership and economic growth in the region.

Mallet, a Fair Haven resident completing her first term on the freeholder board, explained that the county’s location and the skill set of the workforce positions the area for revitalization.

“We have a great opportunity here in Monmouth County because of our location. We are equidistant from New York and Philadelphia. We have tremendous talent at home. We need to continue the research and development that has gone on at Fort Monmouth because the resources are there. We need to tap into it and use it,” said Mallet, the owner of marketing company based in Neptune.

Burry, a two-term member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders and resident of Colts Neck, said there are a number of revitalization efforts underway at the fort. She noted an acute care facility and Brookdale Community College will occupy space at the site. Burry, who owns a real estate business in Colts Neck, has served on the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority.

Noble, a Red Bank resident running on the Socialist Party ticket, said rather than attract larger companies, he would like to see more small businesses in the county. He would like to see more area businesses adopt models that allow more control by the workers.

Renewable Energy

While all candidates support utilizing renewable energy, they struck nuanced positions on how to implement and encourage its use.

Burry said some buildings at Fort Monmouth have geothermal properties to efficiently heat and cool the structures, and she would like to see that possibility explored with new buildings. However, she said she is strongly opposed to the proposal to install a wind turbine in Union Beach.

“Three-hundred and fifty feet in height—would you want that next door to your home? I don’t think so. And there is a constant noise. As far as polluting the environment, I can tell you they pollute the immediate environment. It’s an inappropriate location,” Burry said.

Noble said funds should be allocated for the installation of solar panels on county buildings, but said he opposes wind turbines along the Jersey Shore.

Rich said he was not sure solar and wind were the most cost efficient way to produce energy because of the government subsidies attached. He suggested exploring using natural gas in the trigeneration to create electricity for heating and cooling needs.

Mallet noted that she was a strong advocate of the installation of solar panels on county buildings and parking lot canopies.

“I encourage everybody here to head toward Kozloski Road and see a major project that’s under construction right now. We’re constructing canopies over large parking lots that receive a lot of sunlight.  We have so many opportunities and we are creating clean energy and creating jobs,” she said.

Mallet said New Jersey needs a master plan to explore where the best locations for wind turbines would be and that turbines need not be long-blade structures.

Shea said he was supportive of renewable energy but, as a former Keansburg resident, was strongly against the Bayshore wind turbine proposal, calling it “a monstrosity.”

Ethics Reform

The only heated moments of the debate arose in response to questions of ethical considerations.

One audience question, seemingly addressed at Shea, asked if the candidates believed someone should collect a freeholder salary and a disability salary at the same time. Shea said he did not believe there was an ethical conflict with his collecting his retirement benefits from his job as a trooper and taking a freeholder salary.

“I was retired from my job. What would you have me do at 32—sit at home, collect social security and tax you even harder or get back in the game? I’m continuing my public service. I was hurt twice doing my job and I’m back out here doing what I need to do. There is no conflict. I’ve already gone on record—yes, I would take the (freeholder) salary provided to me but I would not take the benefits or pensions. Now that’s feeding at the trough,” Shea said.

Another audience question asked whether volunteers appointed by the freeholder board should be subject to term limits. Mallet, the lone Democrat on the Board of Chosen Freeholders, advocated term limits after it was discovered former Brookdale Community College President Peter Burnham received a housing allowance, a new car and had his country club membership paid for through a contract approved by the volunteer members on the board of trustees. Mallet said she could not receive a second motion from another freeholder to bring the term limits proposal for a vote before the governing body.

Mallet said some autonomous boards have members that have served for over 50 years. She said term limits would make room for new members and prevent political patronage.

Rich disagreed with the need for term limits for volunteer positions.

“It always seems one thing happens and we try to legislate everything. We can’t overreach—we need to be careful. Do we need to go back and maybe do better oversight? I would agree with that,” he said.

The candidates also addressed a question on whether or not an ethical advisory board was necessary at the county level.

“If there appears to be a need for ethics reform, absolutely. There is an ethics board at the state level that we have the ability to appeal to if we feel there is cause to do so,” Burry said. “We as a freeholder board put forth the toughest pay-to-play bill in the state of New Jersey. I think we do a very fine job at policing ourselves as a board. I have yet to see any serious infraction of an ethics situation,” Burry said.

Bill Heller October 28, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I applaud all the candidates fro having considered the BRSA/Conti Group wind turbine issue in Union Beach prior to the event. Once again, all were opposed. The BRSA and Conti have lied time and time again in their efforts to erect their monstrosity. Two such lies are easy to see. On the Links Page of www.noturbine.com you can see what a comparable wind turbine in Lewes, DE really looks like vs. the artist's rendering on the BRSA website of the planned UB turbine. It's clear the BRSA's image was meant to deceive. Also, The Conti Group claims on their website that it is already built: http://www.conticorp.com/project/wind_turbine_generator. I assure you it is not, and it may never be if UB prevails in its appeals case. I have to wonder, why the deception on Conti's part? Does it have something to do with acquiring their ARRA funds? That would be a real scandal if that's the case.
Venture Guy October 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Research shows that renewable energy is actually very expensive compared to conservation. If you spent the same amount of money for high efficiency lights it would produce save electricity and lower Energy usage with Wind Turbines at a minimum cost of $6 million. Here is a plan to save more money with no destructive wind turbine 5 % of the cost. THAT IS FIVE PERCENT OF THE COST! The light bulb over our heads is the idea! GE’s website Shows the savings from using CFL light blubs http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/products/pop_lighting_calc.htm If you bought 20,000 CFL 100 watt lights bulbs at a cost of $15 each for the towns people and town buildings at a cost of $300,000.(this is $5,700,000 less than a turbine) you would get a yearly savings of $200,000(same as turbine) based on $.10 per kWh and 4 hours use per day. That is an absolute drop in the use of electricity(really good for the environment). These don't only work when the wind blows...they save electricity EVERY NIGHT 365 days of the year. This is just one example of what money could buy in efficiency! Imagine having another $5,700,000 for other good ideas…talk about bang for the buck! Also no birds killed, not envirnoment ruined, no people harmed with noise, no financial risk, no people in danger from falling industrial parts, no costly repairs, no lawsuits!
Venture Guy October 28, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Of course the squandering of money to VIPs tied into the wind industry and various players in the government can't make get the kickbacks with the smarter use of money. Wind Energy is expensive, intermittent and will NEVER EVER replace a power plant...The wind doesn't always blow when you need that light or A/C. It is a giant waste of money!
Charles E. Hoffman. Jr. October 29, 2011 at 10:10 AM
I am happy to see that the BRSA Industrial Wind Turbine was kept out of the Political Arena, because it is not a political issue and has never been one. The BRSA obtained injunction against the U.B. Gov't only prevented good governance. Regardless of political affiliation, although the Asbury Park Press and its litle paper wasting Community Reporter does it best to tell you otherwise, the folks in Union Beach have a RIGHT TO RIGHT and the BRSA Industrial Wind Turbine is not it.
John Curran October 30, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Remarkably; each of the candidates is in agreement that onshore industrial wind turbines are a bad idea under current State policies and guidelines or the lack thereof. In stark contrast to the unanimous negative and opposing points of view regarding onshore turbines expressed by each candidate from this diverse group and despite resolutions of opposition by Holmdel, Hazlet, Keyport, Matawan, Union Beach, and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders; the BRSA executive director, the wind industry lobbyist, and administrative assistant, along with the six commissioners appointed by Holmdel, Union Beach, and Hazlet, brazenly continue to march forward in lock-step without a shadow of restraint to force this irresponsibly-sited industrial behemoth on the good people of Union Beach and its neighboring towns. The BRSA has too much power with scant standards of accountability required of it by the DEP and our elected lawmakers. This inordinate dominance must be stripped away from the BRSA and home-rule must be returned to the serviced communities by whom and for whom the BRSA was created. (to be continued) John Curran Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance
John Curran October 30, 2011 at 05:50 AM
The BRSA industrial turbine project must be stopped; an independent forensic audit of the BRSA must be implemented immediately; and, the “precautionary principle” in the interest of public health and safety must be applied to this and to all onshore industrial wind turbine projects until every economic, technical, and environmental benefit claimed by the wind industry and the BRSA are fully vetted based on sound scientific methodology, independent peer research results and testimony, and vigorous debate on the Senate and Assembly floors. To date; none of this has ever been done. John Curran Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance
EdD October 30, 2011 at 02:44 PM
It's nice to see that some folks are learning that contrary to the claims of the developers, wind turbines are not quiet and they are not benign. They are not environmentally responsible and they are not cost effective. Wind turbine noise is highly intrusive and disruptive. It has been shown to induce many severe symptoms, including sleep deprivation, migraine headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, elevated blood pressure, anxiety and depression. It's to bad the BRSA will not face the facts and the ratepayers can look forward to paying hugh amounts when they get sued.


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