NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–This November, voters in Middlesex County will choose two candidates for the Board of Chosen Freeholders and a County Clerk.
Incumbent Democrats Ronald Rios of Carteret and H. James Polos of Highland Park are seeking re-election to the Freeholder Board, and will face Republicans Sharon Hubberman of Perth Amboy and Jose Alonso of Edison.
Meanwhile, while incumbent Democrat County Clerk Elaine Flynn of Old Bridge will be facing Alex Barletta of South Plainfield in the County Clerk election.
Independent candidates have until June 2 to file petitions to join the November races, the same day that primary elections are held for both Democrats and Republicans.
But none of the candidates in either major party are facing competition in the June 2 primary.
Freeholders serve three year terms. Currently all members of the board are Democrats, and they have been for over a decade.
Rios is currently serving as the Freeholder Director, a position he has held since 2013. During his time in office, Rios cites the establishment of the Middlesex County Veterans Housing Assistance Program which helps veterans with both rental payments and securing funds for a mortgage as one of the accomplishments he is proudest of.
“Veterans hold a special play near and dear to my heart,” Rios said. He also cited support for Middlesex Community College and the Vocational and Technical School, which received the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award, as one of his major accomplishments.
First elected to the board in 2008, Rios resides in Carteret where he served on the borough council from 2001 to 2008. He worked for Conrail for 30 years as a carman repairing freight trains, a HAZMAT instructor, and served as President of the Local 6965 Transportation Communications International Union from 1993 to 2003.
If re-elected, Rios says that he wants to continue to run county government efficiently and provide services to residents at an affordable price.
“I want to continue to serve and hopefully come November I will be afforded an opportunity to serve again,” Rios said.
Polos was the former Mayor of Highland Park from 1992 until 1999, when he joined the Freeholder board. He is currently the President and CEO of Polos Realty Group and Midlantic Property Management, another real estate firm.
As Freeholder, he has worked to create prescription discount plan eligible for all county residents, and worked to improve the air quality by increasing the number of hybrid vehicles in the county.
The Chairwoman of the Perth Amboy Republican Party, Sharon Hubberman, is challenging Polos and Rios along with her running mate. She is currently the Chairwoman and CEO of SD Widman Private Wealth advisory, a financial management firm.
“Working families are the pillars of America, and small businesses are the future of our economic growth. It is important to recognize this and have a plan to adopt a much needed property tax relief strategy, and a plan for job growth,” Hubberman said.
“In helping small businesses grow through innovation and access to capital, our economy will grow and this in turn will help our working families build their earnings potential,” Hubberman said.
Jose Alonso is running for Freeholder with Hubberman on the Republican ticket. Based in Edison, Alonso runs a small business and says he is concerned about the economic challenges that the county is currently facing in terms of high property taxes and the high amount of regulations that exist.
“My concerns for the economy stem from the fact that we continue to see an exodus of people and companies leaving New Jersey at a very fast rate and we need to find solutions that keep our residents and businesses invested in our communities," Alonso said.
In their races for Freeholder, Hubberman and Alonso plan to campaign on the need for reducing property taxes and revitalizing the stagnant job market in the county.
The County Clerk serves a four year term, and since 1999, the powerful position has been held by Elaine Flynn of Old Bridge.
Flynn, the first woman elected County Clerk in Middlesex, is running for re-election. She was a teacher for 27 years and was the former chair of the Old Bridge Zoning Board.
As Clerk, Flynn has encouraged early voting and sought to increase, and made many government forms available online.
If re-elected, Flynn pledged to continue to make the voting process easier and work to allow individuals to view the election results of the past ten years online.
“I am always monitoring the computer industry to determine possible improvements. I enjoy the challenge of this job and the many citizens I have met and helped,” said Flynn.
Barletta, the County Clerk candidate for the Republicans, is a two-term councilman in South Plainfield and served last year as the council president. He owns a carpentry business, Barletta Construction, where he works on home interiors.
“We’ve been very successful in South Plainfield with whatever’ve done there,” Barletta told New Brunswick Today. “Republicans in South Plainfield took control in 2009 and since then we’ve had a great record on taxes. We’ve had a $168 tax decrease in 2010 and, of that decrease, $87 remains in effect.”
In addition to his time in government, Barletta noted his experience working in finance in the garbage industry as part of his qualifications for Clerk.
Barletta said that he was motivated to run in part because he feels South Plainfield hasn’t received its fair share of grants for open space and recreational projects from the county.
In terms of what he plans to do in office, Barletta said, “I’d like to take a look at the voting rolls to see if anything there needs to be looked at. Mainly, I just wanted to get involved on the county level and that’s what I plan to do.”
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.