BERNARDSVILLE, NJ - Following last month’s passage of bi-partisan bill S-402 by the New Jersey State Senate, which would replace the archaic title “Freeholder” with “County Commissioner”, Democratic Freeholder candidates Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy challenged the members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders to adopt a resolution supporting the bill’s passage in the General Assembly.
The term ‘Freeholder’ dates back to the 18thCentury and referred to office holders being comprised of debt-free property owners – which at the time were exclusively white males. New Jersey remains one of the last states in the country to still use the term.
“Words and titles definitely matter, but this isn’t only about replacing a term rooted in racism and sexism,” stated Robinson “In a larger sense it’s about your willingness to adapt and change with the times, and it’s also about the fact the average taxpayer has no idea what a Freeholder is or does. Updating the title to County Commissioner is a smart way to promote transparency and increase civic participation.”
“This is another missed opportunity by those in charge of Somerset County government to step up and modernize with the times,” said Sooy. “The Board of Chosen Freeholders has a tremendous role in addressing our everyday infrastructure needs, shaping educational opportunities for college students, and prioritizing projects that could produce sustained economic development in our communities. We need to increase awareness among taxpayers of that role, and by retiring this ridiculously outdated title, we can begin that conversation anew.”
A copy of S-402 can be found by visiting http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S0500/402_U1.HTM