The two incumbents on the all-Republican Ocean County Freeholder Board seeking in election in November bring years of public service experience that they say is needed to hold the office.

Ocean County Freeholders Ginny Haines and John Kelly/photo by Tom Mongelli, TSM News

Longtime Freeholder, Director John Kelly and appointed member Ginny Haines, who's seeking her first, full three-year term on the Board, discussed what they've accomplished and would like to continue improving last week on "Townsquare Tonight," on News Talk WOBM-AM 1160 and 1310.

Both agreed the job involves understanding each department and being able to work with the heads of those divisions.

"But you're there really to do what's going to be best to make the county good, to make the services we provide better," said Haines.

Kelly used the Seaside Park pipe bomb explosion as an example of how the Freeholder Board is working with the Prosecutor and Sheriff to find out what worked and what didn't during the response and what new investments the county needs to make to improve those departments.

He also noted that the Freeholders also have to be able to fit the requests of each department into a county budget while keeping taxes low.

"We are still a growing county. We're home to nearly 600,000 people, all with varying needs," said Kelly. He added that Ocean is home to the most seniors and largest contingent of veterans in New Jersey.

Services the county is able to provide and maintain come at a cost, but Kelly touted the County's Triple-A Bond rating, and credited it with helping keep taxes from increasing.

"That Triple-A Bond Rating is extremely important. It meant today that when we sold our bonds, we had a 2.28 percent interest," Kelly said. "That's what investors are going to charge us to pay our debt," said Kelly. "It means lower taxes for the county tax payer because the interest that we're paying to put together all the programs that we have in Ocean County, the capital side, is being paid at a very low rate, and therefore we're able to keep the tax rate down," he added.

Being fiscally responsible has allowed the county to enhance programs for Human and Social Services, and transportation that are overseen by Haines.

Haines noted that even with a decrease in state and federal funding provided for transportation, the county was able to add two more buses for Ocean Ride program and provide drivers with tablets, that she said makes the drivers more efficient and provides convenience to riders, by allowing the exact location of a bus to be pinpointed.

Kelly mentioned how well county roads are maintained compared to sister counties and even state roads.

Kelly oversees Law and Public Safety and vowed to make addressing the county's drug epidemic his main focus.

"It starts with education, then enforcement, and then treatment of drugs and mental health issues, and unless you do all three components, you'll never be truly successful," said Kelly. He noted that he's working with the county Mental Health Board, Board of Health, Prosecutor, Sheriff and Warden on the issue and said they'll also work with schools on an education program.

Read more about the Democratic challengers seeking to unseat Kelly and Haines here:


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