UNION COUNTY, NJ — TAPinto has contacted the candidates for Union County Freeholder and offered the opportunity to be profiled in advance of Election Day. Our "5 Questions with" series is a platform for candidates of both parties to express their views.
"5 Questions With"
Name: Bruce H. Bergen
Current Occupation: Attorney in private practice as a partner in Krevsky, Silber & Bergen, in Cranford.
Education: Cranford High School; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio, B.A.; Seton Hall School of Law, J.D.
Years Lived in Union County: My entire life (60 years).
1. Why are you running for Union County Freeholder?
I have spent my entire life in Union County, and I love my community and the quality of life we all enjoy. We need to continue to head in a positive direction and, now--more than ever, follow a plan that the Democratic Freeholder Board on Column B has put in place.
I plan on continuing to follow a path that has led to:
- Improved educational opportunities for our residents at our award-winning County College and Vocational Technical Schools;
- Keeping Union County safe by fully funding our Prosecutor’s, Sheriff’s and Public Safety offices—crime has continued to decrease overall in Union County;
- Shared services – Over many years, the county has made more than 150 shared services available to municipalities, saving them well in excess of several million dollars. There are continuing efforts by Union County to identify and make available additional shared service opportunities.
- Keeping Union County’s economy moving forward: For the second year in a row, Union County experienced one of the highest wage increases of any large County in America, ranking within the top 20 nationally, and second highest in the state of New Jersey. Our schools rank highly, and so does our quality of life.
The Democratic Freeholder team on Column B has a cohesive plan that leaves no one behind and we are working hard to implement it. I am running so I can continue to better Union County as a place to live, work and enjoy life, for all of our citizens.
2. What are your thoughts on rush hour NJT "one-seat" trains? How likely is it that we'll ever see it?
In my time on the Freeholder Board, I have joined in this very important effort to help secure a full one-seat ride schedule for our residents who use the Raritan Valley line of the NJ Transit to access New York City. Through the efforts of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, the various mayors along the line, and the several counties served, we have been able to begin the process. I fully intend to continue to work cooperatively with all levels of government to make this goal a reality. Unfortunately, the cancellation of the Hudson Rail tunnel project by Governor Christy has made this goal harder to reach.
But the recent support from various parties, including Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Robert Menendez, have helped move along what is now called the Gateway Regional Project, to add two additional rail tunnels under the Hudson River — a critically important step in not only ensuring the long-term viability of one-seat ride for the Raritan Valley line, but to prevent a broader, more extensive economic disaster for Union County, and all of North Jersey, should one of the existing tunnels, now about 100 years old, become unusable. For anyone seeking more information on this important issue, please see the following video.
3. What's your position on the proposed sports stadium for Rahway River Park? What do you think of the supporters of the opposing view?
Since this issue was raised some months ago, I have examined the project and the concerns expressed in a detailed and conscientious manner.I took part in a visit to the site, along with other Freeholders and many of our professional staff, to “see for myself.”I attended the first of the two public information sessions held by the county, so I could hear the concerns first hand.Though I understand the residents’ concerns, I am convinced that the plan to refurbish the existing field, with the surface changed to turf from dirt, as well as the track, is a good one.
This project is one of a series that, over the course of a number of years, is renovating many of our fields already existing in the Union County Park system.I believe that once completed, this project will allow us to continue to provide badly needed active recreation space, while having minimal if any impact upon the vast open spaces of the park or their uses as a passive park by others.
4. Tell us about your non-government career.
I have been a practicing attorney in Union County since 1980, most of that time in private practice either on my own or as a member of a number of small firms. I have been a partner in the firm of Krevsky, Silber and Bergen for more than 20 years. As such, I am aware of the challenges of owning your own small business and the need for the county to continue to assist in Union County’s ongoing economic recovery. My legal experience includes 17 years as the municipal attorney for the township of Springfield, giving me vital experience in the trials and tribulations of municipal government, and helping to provide me with the experience to understand the importance of the county offering shared services to the local municipalities, to help them continue to provide vital services to their residents, at a reasonable cost.
5. What should people know about you that they might not know already?
Even before holding elected office, I involved myself over the years in a number of activities to try and give back to my community. I have been a member of the Cranford Rotary Club since 1982, twice serving as President and being named a Paul Harris Fellow by my club in 1993.
In 2013, I completed a five-year term as president of Central Jersey Legal Services, where I have been a board member for many years, and continue to do so, helping to provide free civil legal services to eligible residents of Union, Middlesex and Mercer counties.
I have been appointed twice by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a member of the District XII (Union County) Attorney Ethics Committee, and served as chairman in 2009-2010. I was picked by the Springfield Area B’nai B’rith to receive their 2012 International Citizenship and Civic Award.
I also continue to serve as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, the state-wide organization of municipal attorneys, affiliated with the New Jersey League of Municipalities, where I am also an Associate Editor of the Local Government Law Review. I was designated a Diplomate in Local Government Law after having fulfilled the educational requirements.
I have found it rewarding to be able to serve my community both as an elected official, and as a volunteer in the worthy organizations.