WESTFIELD, NJ — A Westfield resident hasn’t sat on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 14 years, but Kim Palmieri-Mouded, a Westfield mother and active member of the community, aims to change that.
On March 11, Palmieri-Mouded received the necessary number of votes from the Union County Democratic Municipal Chairs to run on the Democratic ticket in the June primaries. She is running along with incumbent Al Mirabella of Fanwood and Andrea Statten of Roselle for the opportunity to run for a seat on the board in November’s general election.
Her nomination follows the 2017 general election, when Democrats swept the town council election in Westfield, turning an all-Republican town council into one with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, headed by a Democratic mayor.
“It comes at a great time,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “We did sweep the election and I think that definitely put us on the map in terms of getting county support and notice within the county. This is a great opportunity for us to have a voice and do good things for Westfield and the county as whole.”
Palmieri-Mouded hopes to use her voice as a platform for Westfield residents who feel disappointed with county government, she said.
“Two years ago, I ran for town council in Westfield’s fourth ward,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I found during campaigning that the residents felt disenchanted with the county. They felt that they weren’t represented, and we do pay a high amount of tax dollars to the county and want representation.”
It is evident that local government is important to Palmieri-Mouded, who proudly declared that she is a lifelong resident of Union County, like her parents and grandparents were before her.
“Local government has always been in the forefront of my family,” she said. “My grandparents were Democratic committee members and they always instilled in me the importance of getting involved in my community. From the time I was 11 years old, I used to beg my dad to go door-to-door with him for whatever he was supporting.”
Palmieri-Mouded grew up in Elizabeth, lived in Scotch Plains for a stint and moved to Westfield with her husband, George, when they planned to start a family. She now has four young boys, all younger than 6, who she hopes to inspire as her parents did for her.
“That’s a parent’s goal, to inspire their own children to be better people and active citizens,” she said. “I hope I can inspire my own children and other children all around the county.”
Children are a cornerstone of Palmieri-Mouded’s campaign, along with education and the senior community. As a former associate dean for student life at St. John’s University, she spent considerable time working with young minds. While there, she also worked with the 65 and older community in Staten Island, she said.
“That was a great opportunity, and I believe my skills and what I was able to do at St. John’s prepared me for the freeholders,” she said. “A lot of responsibilities there in terms of community outreach and budget management relate to what you do as freeholders.”
What does she think of national politics, where young people are playing an active role in the campaign for school safety and stricter gun regulations?
“I think the role of a freeholder is to address and advocate for the residents of Union County, but I think national issues are at the forefront of everything,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I would love an opportunity to learn more from our residents about what matters to them and how we can keep our children healthy, safe and happy. I think there’s a lot nationally that touches our local towns and how we function and raise our children. I’d love to be part of those conversations and help improve safety for our children and make sure they’re content and happy.”
Palmieri-Mouded plans to speak with Westfield and county residents at upcoming democratic events, although she does not have an exact schedule yet. She’s currently working on her website so she can notify people of her whereabouts, she said.
In the meantime, Westfield residents can find her at Mindowaskin Park, where takes her four boys to watch the ducks, in one of Westfield's book clubs (she belongs to two) or at Casa di Pizza, where she and her family love to eat, she said.
“We’ve loved Westfield since we’ve been here,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I think this is really special for Westfield to have this opportunity if I am elected.”