A pair of Democrats vying for two seats up for election this November on the All-Republican Ocean County Freeholder Board want to bring efficiency and transparency to the governing body, that they claim doesn't exist.

Democratic Candidates for Ocean County Freeholder, Michael Cooke (left) and Ed Wolff (right)/Photo by Tom Mongelli, TSM News

Michael Cooke, an attorney in Toms River who grew up in Lyndhurst, and Ed Wolff of Point Pleasant, a former Vice President of Sales at Panasonic, were guests recently on "Townsquare Tonight" on News Talk WOBM-AM 1160 and 1310 to discuss what they would change if they can unseat longtime incumbent John Kelly and Ginny Haines, who was appointed in January, 2016 to fill the seat vacated by Freeholder James Lacey.

The Democratic candidates criticized the way county government is currently being run.

"There are efficiencies in general that need to be done, and in looking at how we spend money in Ocean County, I don't see a whole lot of efficiencies going on," said Wolff. He pointed to a more than $1 million dollar study the Freeholder Board had done on buildings it overseas to determine whether they are in need of repair or should be consolidated.

Cooke expanded on Wolff's comments, promising that they would explain to the public how their money is spent and explained why they feel there is a lack of transparency in decisions made by the Freeholder Board.

"They make their decisions in the backroom, and then they just sort of come out and present this is the thing, this is what it's about, any comment, no, vote yay, nay and off we go," said Cooke.

The Democratic candidates pledge to examine all jobs that aren't Civil Service and take a close look at political appointments. "Have these people explain what they're doing, what their productivity is, we'll see what they bring to the County. If we can't figure out what they do for a living, the next thing we want to know is, who's cousin are they, because that's really apparently the problem," Cooke said.

Wolff added, "They don't question each other publicly about what's going on, things go through."

Kelly and Haines will get their turn to respond to the claims made by the Democratic candidates and discuss the issues in the upcoming election this Wednesday on Townsquare Tonight.


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