The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders met Tuesday for its final meeting as a Freeholder Board, conducting end-of-year business and honoring the contributions of departing members Freeholder Brian Gallagher and Freeholder Brian Levine. Also honored was Surrogate Frank Bruno, who will also be departing at the end of his term, and County Administrator Michael Amorosa who is retiring at the end of the year.
“I want to thank Frank, Brian, Brian, and Mike for their decades of dedicated service to the people of Somerset County,” said Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson. “Somerset County has, along with the world, had a very difficult 2020 and will be going through a lot of transitions in the next year. We have a good foundation to build on thanks, in part, to our departing colleagues and are poised to ensure we get to experience 2021 as twenty-twenty won.”
As of January 1, 2021, the state of New Jersey is renaming Boards of Chosen Freeholders to Board of County Commissioners, and at the annual reorganization meeting on Friday, January 8 the body will be convened with five County Commissioners and be known as the Somerset County Board of Commissioners. Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson was a leading voice in the effort to remove the antiquated title and was invited to the bill signing by Governor Phil Murphy.
Director Robinson presented a proclamation to Freeholder Levine, and Deputy Director Sara Sooy and Freeholder Melonie Marano presented proclamations to Surrogate Bruno and Freeholder Gallagher respectively. Director Robinson also read a proclamation for Administrator Amorosa who was not able to attend.
United States Senator Cory Booker sent along congratulations and good wishes in a framed letter to Administrator Amorosa. State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman also provided proclamations from the NJ Senate and kudos to Surrogate Bruno, Freeholders Gallagher and Levine, and Administrator Amorosa.
Somerset County Surrogate Frank Bruno, a Vietnam Veteran who served in the United States Navy, has served his hometown of Bound Brook and the people of Somerset County for almost three decades. Bruno was first elected to the Bound Brook Borough Council in 1992, serving as council president from 1994 to 1998. Bruno was elected Surrogate in 2000 and has provided services to families at the most challenging times of their lives since 2001. He will retire from his position after serving three terms on December 31, 2020.
“I want to thank the people who provided me this opportunity to serve them as the Surrogate. When I go around the state as a Constitutional Officer, I’m always proud to say I’m from Somerset County,” said Bruno. “I also want to recognize the staff. A leader is only as good as his staff, and the Somerset County Surrogate’s office has the best who provide phenomenal support to our residents during their most difficult days.”
Somerset County Freeholder Brian Gallagher has served in office for 20 years, beginning in 2001 when he was sworn in to the Somerville Borough Council. From 2004 to 2017, Gallagher served as Mayor of Somerville, and in 2018 joined the Board of Chosen Freeholders. During his time as a Freeholder, Gallagher helped develop a partnership with Hunterdon County for COVID-19 testing, revitalized public communications programs, and facilitated partnerships with local police departments to expand the Somerset County 9-1-1 dispatch services. Gallagher’s term expires on December 31, 2020.
“I’ve had the honor of serving at the local and county level for two decades, and I have to say I’ve loved every minute of it. Thank you to our constituents for allowing me this opportunity, and I hope I’ve left things in a better position than when I got here,” said Gallagher. “To the soon to be Board of Commissioners, your success is the success for the people of Somerset County, and I wish you nothing but the best results.”
Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine served on the Franklin Township Council from 1993 to 2003. He followed that tenure by serving as the Mayor of Franklin Township from 2004 to 2014, at which time he left office to join the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders including serving as Freeholder Director in 2019. Levine was instrumental in the integration of the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center and Zufall Health to deliver coordinated mental health services, dental care, and primary health care. Levine’s term expires on December 31, 2020.
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of Somerset County for the past six years as a Somerset County Freeholder, and to work with the staff of Somerset County to build this great place to live,” said Freeholder Levine. “We have done a lot of good and have helped a lot of people in that time, and I want to thank the County for this opportunity to make a difference in the best County in New Jersey.”
Somerset County Administrator Michael Amorosa first joined the county as an intern in 1974 and was hired as a designer when he graduated college in 1976. Notable projects led by Mike over his career include the renovation of the Somerset County Historic Court House, construction of the County Administration Building, erection of TD Bank Ballpark, the creation of the Somerset County Insurance Commission, and the Somerset County Partnership Health Center. Amorosa served as Somerset County Engineer and Director of Public Works between February 1988 and January 2011 when he was named County Administrator. Amorosa’s term of office expires on December 31, 2020.