TAP into Montville recently asked the 12 Morris County Freeholder Candidates five questions, similar to those posed at the debate held in Montville recently. Their answers will appear in a series. The following answers are from Republican candidate John Krickus.
1. Opening statement: describe your background and why you are running.
I am running to provide voters a clear conservative choice. I was on the Freeholder Board for three years and we had no tax increases. As soon as I left, the current Freeholders just increased taxes by $7.5 million. I have identified $28 million of reductions in the county budget that would not impact services and would restore the zero tax policy.
My background includes a BA from Drew, an MBA from Lehigh, and I served six years in the Marine Corps Reserves. I also served 12 years as a Washington Township Committeeman, and three years of those as Mayor. Having worked in the private sector my entire life as a CPA and product manager, I never signed up for the pension system and never received taxpayer-funded health benefits.
I just celebrated 30 years of marriage with my wife Carolyn and we have two daughters attending college; one studying to be a physicians assistant and the other is studying engineering. All three serve as volunteer EMTs for the Long Valley First Aid Squad.
2. How do you think the heroin problem in Morris County discussed by the Sheriff candidates should be addressed by the Freeholder Board?
The heroin problem has three aspects to it, prevention, law enforcement, and treatment. A key difficulty is when a person becomes addicted, it is very difficult to reverse the process. As a Freeholder, the steps we can take involve supporting law enforcement, the county prosecutor and sheriff, but also working with organizations to increase education and prevention, which would save many families the trauma of addiction. The final action I would take is to utilize savings identified in other areas of the budget to work with our non-profits on treatment programs.
3. Imagine the board finds a 10% windfall (of approximately $34M) in the county budget. How would you approach these funds?
Tax relief would be the number one priority. In fact as a Freeholder I had a perfect track record of no tax increases, a policy which was unfortunately reversed by this year's $7.5 million tax increase. When I was a budget committee member, there was not increase in spending, but since I left the Freeholder board, the budget committee's spending has increased by $23 million. The windfall should also apply to our debt in order to lower debt, which both saves money and maintains Morris County's triple AAA rating.
4. What is your position on an Apprentice Program resolution, requiring contractor-bidders to have an apprentice program?
I am totally opposed to the apprenticeship program. The current Freeholders have said in debates they see value in this program. I oppose this program because the county's own staff said it would cost the county $1.5 million on one project alone and would reduce competition on county projects, thus leading to higher prices. Governor Christie vetoed similar legislation for the same reasons. No wonder taxes have to increase when you favor a costly program like the apprenticeship resolution.
5. What other issues do you think are important, that voters need to know about?
The key priority has to be no tax increases and keeping spending flat. From that foundation we can work on other priorities. One example would be a skilled workforce which is critical in today's economy. I worked as Freeholder to find $400,000 of savings in other parts of the budget in order to fund the first increase in aid to County College of Morris in seven years. I would also look to fund our non-profits for programs like drug treatment and senior programs by finding savings in other parts of the budget.