SOMERVILLE – Mark Caliguire of Montgomery was named 2015 director of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders at the board’s annual reorganization meeting, which was held Jan. 6 at the Historic Courthouse. Patricia L. Walsh of Green Brook will serve as deputy director this year.
Brian D. Levine of Franklin was sworn in to his first three-year term on the Freeholder Board. Also taking the oath of office was Peter S. Palmer of Bernardsville, who returns for his seventh term on the county governing body. They join Patrick Scaglione of Bridgewater, who served as director last year. Levine replaces Robert Zaborowski of Franklin, who stepped down at the end of December.
Caliguire, who served as Montgomery Township mayor for two years during his time on the Township Committee there, filled a one-year unexpired term before being elected to a full three-year term as Freeholder starting in 2014. Walsh is a former Green Brook mayor who served on the Green Brook Township Committee for 15 years before becoming a Freeholder.
Pointing to last year’s Movoto real estate blog ranking of Somerset County as the fifth best place to live in the U.S., Freeholder Director Caliguire said, “I am confident that the quality of life in Somerset that helped earn that distinction did not happen by accident. I know that our history of excellent county government and sound county leadership – county leadership that runs this organization by treating our taxpayers as our customers – is a big reason for the quality of life we enjoy here.
“But organizations, whether public or private, that stand still and rest on past accomplishments, don’t remain leaders,” he said. “So we won’t do that. We will continue to make improvements. Our goal is to make things better for the taxpayers we serve.”
He said some of the priorities for enhancing Somerset County’s quality of life in 2015 are to:
Improve the quality of assistance provided to the county’s neediest residents, at the new Walter J. Kavanaugh Social Services building slated to open in Somerville this summer; it will serve some 34,000 clients per year and relieve current overcrowding.
Continue to improve upon a first-class county parks system, which now totals 14,200 acres under management of the county Park Commission; the 250-acre Skillman Park in Montgomery is one of the newest additions.
Continue to provide first-class recreational opportunities, through improvements to the new, 369-acre Mountain View Park in Hillsborough, site of the former Belle Mead GSA depot.
Improve social and support services to senior citizens, at a new, state-of-the-art senior wellness center in Bridgewater that will open later this year.
Continue to seek ways to make government at all local levels more efficient through shared-services initiatives at the county and municipal levels.
Strengthen the professional county staff and develop organizational leadership for the future, through the county’s Building Exceptional Leadership Talent program.
“We are not standing still,” Freeholder Director Caliguire said. “We are committed to improving. This freeholder board is always looking for better and more effective ways of providing the services we provide.”
He noted that last year’s county budget kept spending at 2007 levels and maintained the county’s triple-A bond rating. He said he anticipates “the same level of prudence in the 2015 budget.”
“I am a big believer in smaller government, but our residents pay a lot of hard-earned money in county taxes, so we will remain dedicated to giving them value in return,” the new Freeholder Director said.
“Our county government is about service to over 325,000 residents. But it’s not our money we spend – it’s theirs. We have the privilege and the responsibility of spending that money effectively and efficiently.”
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