Meet the Republican Candidates for Middlesex County’s Freeholder Board

Priti Pandya-Patel and Mina Kolta

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Three Republicans are running unopposed in tomorrow’s primary election, June 6, to represent the party this fall in the election for the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Legislators on the county freeholder board serve three-year terms that begin in January. They develop policies, vote on ordinances and resolutions and work with administrators to enact their agendas, representing residents of the 25 municipalities in Middlesex.

Primary elections offer partisans the chance to choose their candidates in the November general election. Registered Democrats may vote tomorrow in their party’s primaries, and Republicans may do the same for their party.

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Unaffiliated voters may ask for a ballot from either party at their polling stations. By doing so, however, voters become registered with the party in whose primary they voted.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information on where to vote, click here.

The Republican primary elections for freeholders in Middlesex County is uncontested. That means the GOP ballot will not include any races.

Despite that, TAPinto New Brunswick sent questions to the Republican freeholder candidates—Mina Kolta, Priti Pandya-Patel and Susan Zellner Hogan—so that voters may better understand the politicians.

Below are responses from Kolta and Pandya. They’re running to represent the Republicans in the race for two three-year terms on the freeholder board.

Zellner Hogan, who is running to fill one year of an unexpired term, didn’t respond to campaign questions.

The candidates’ responses may have been edited for grammar, style or brevity.

Mina Kolta, Middlesex County Republican Organization, Old Bridge

Describe your background and why you are qualified for the office.

My name is Mina Kolta, and I am a son of immigrants.

I learned from my parents how important a good education can be. I have a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Long Island University. I have received an award for most active student two years in a row, been instrumental in forming charity organizations​, a member of campus student government in high school and college, Coptic Club, Computer Science Club and various other clubs.

I am a former manager at Verizon. My IT career began at Rutgers. I am currently an engineer at Fox News. My experience working as an engineer in the IT field, along with community involvement, the desire to give back to the community, my passion for good government and my objectivity, are some of the reasons that make me qualified to be a freeholder.

What do you consider the most pressing issue facing Middlesex County, and how would you address it?

The most pressing issue in Middlesex County is the misuse of money. Misuse of money leads to increases in taxes and debt. I would address this issue by going straight to the books. I would audit all the books since I love to get the details. By auditing the books I can find ways not to just save the county money, but ensure that every penny spent benefits the people of the county. Auditing would also allow me to find contracts and deals that cost the county too much money and renegotiate these contracts.

What else do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

I would also like to make everything transparent and up-to-date. My experience in the IT field can help do that. Many departments in the county either have no IT infrastructure, some do not even have website and some are very outdated. With my knowledge, not only will it help with transparency, but it will save the county money. Many things can be automated nowadays. Also, I would push for more outreach to all the towns of the county.

Priti Pandya-Patel, Middlesex County Republican Organization, Old Bridge

Describe your background and why you are qualified for the office.

I have been in the healthcare industry for more than 25 years, as clinician, administrator, provider and businesswoman.

I have been residing in New Jersey for the past 45 years, in Middlesex County since 1994 and Old Bridge since 2005. I am married with two college children. I have been committed to raising my family and balancing work/life commitments. Now I am ready to move on to my next phase to become the first Republican Asian-Indian woman freeholder in the county. 

I hold a certified assisted living administrator license, a license and an associate’s degree in physical therapy, a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation administration, an MBA in healthcare administration, a masters degree in psychology and PsyD in process. I have been involved in many aspects in the healthcare industry from substance abuse and mental health in adolescence to senior care in sub-acute rehabilitation.

Currently, I am working within my own business, providing healthcare-consulting services to other companies as well as working to build my own healthcare facilities in Middlesex County.

For the past 12 years, I have been very involved in the community through efforts as an Old Bridge recreational sports coach, a volunteer and a member in nonprofit organizations, as well as being appointed by the mayor to participate in several township committees within the past few years, such as the Arts and Cultural Committee and more recently, the health and wellness council. 

I am currently the President of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce and a board member for over five years. As a former Miss India NJ, I said, “I would like to be a role model for the Indo-American young women of this generation to give them inspiration, encouragement, confidence and the strength to be the best they can be and to overcome any challenges throughout life with a smile.”

I am excited to run for freeholder. Ironically, in 1987, as the president of the political science club in high school, I was an Honorary Union County Chosen Freeholder and received a certificate for outstanding service. I have always been passionate about health and wellness and a patient advocate. Moreover, I am interested in establishing a footprint and making a difference for the residents of Middlesex County on other very important concerns which many people have already addressed to me such as a focus on improving our county parks and roads and immigration security. I know that I am very qualified to successfully participate in any of committees within the county and willing to dedicate quality time necessary to fulfill the duties as required. I would like to work towards reducing red tape in our government, reduce unnecessary taxes and find solutions to reduce county costs by incorporating more educational programs on prevention by accessing available state and federal grants.

What do you consider the most pressing issue facing Middlesex County, and how would you address it?

Mental health, substance abuse and senior care: By reallocating money for preventive programs and tapping into state and federal funds and grants, which will save the county more money in the future.

Reducing taxes due to overspending and monitor million dollar projects that are unnecessary: By accessing and reevaluating all proposals and vote on those that are priorities and will make a positive change to all Middlesex residents and not just to certain groups or communities.

Immigration and homeland security in Middlesex County: As an immigrant myself, I take pride in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, but I also understand frustrations of labeling and discrimination. I would like to address this by working with state and federal agencies, as well as minority groups who are affected, and find a solution with the goal being that our county and state will continue to be a safe place to live.

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