"Why the move to County Commissioners was a "No-Brainer"
On August 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed legislation eliminating the term Freeholder. The newly signed law requires all boards of chosen freeholders to be known as boards of county commissioners by January 1, 2021.
The term freeholder dates before the American Revolution, it was used to refer to debt-free landowners in a time when only white males were allowed to own land.
Some people will say it is only a name. While it is just a name, it is a name that holds misogynistic and racist tendencies. When the term freeholder originated, people of color and women were not able to own land, which excluded them from seeking this office.
I applaud the effort of our governor and state legislature to immediately break ties with this obsolete terminology that was born out of exclusivity, misogyny, racism, and privilege. This shift in thinking shows many people are beginning to recognize that words have meaning and names have power. A name is not just a name, it tells people who you are, and freeholders are not who we are now nor how we want to be remembered.
This change does not mean the fight is over; it means the fight is beginning, and there is work to be done. We have got a lot of work to do when it comes to education and economic equity but this Board of Commissioners embraces that work.
Step one is complete, there is more to be done to reach our goal of equality and inclusivity, but I can proudly say that the State of New Jersey is a much more inclusive State today due to this first step.
Commissioner Samuel T. Frisby Sr