For the past 15 years, the Union County Freeholder Board has consisted of nine Democrats and zero Republicans.
The end result of that absolute power is that Summit residents, myself included, send more of their property tax dollars to Union County than to their own municipality, which provides essential services like police and fire, and they get virtually nothing back from the County.
But it isn't just Summit that is suffering - Union County already has the 5th highest property tax rate of more than 3000 counties nationwide, and that was before the Freeholders approved a 5 percent county tax increase for 2011, second highest in the state. It would be one thing if the money was being put to good use, but complete control has resulted in shenanigans like the tens of thousands of dollars "misplaced" from the County's $1.1 million MusicFest, as reported by the Union County Prosecutor; nepotism, like the Freeholder's decision to give lifetime health and pension benefits to what the Newark Star Ledger called among "the most politically connected;" and waste, like spending $136,000 to redo the County website. These are just a few examples of what is going on in the County - more can be found at www.DidYouKnowUC.com.
I don't care if you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent - enough is enough. After 15 years, it is time for some new voices on the Freeholder Board. I am a Summit resident running for Freeholder as a Republican, and I am asking for your vote, regardless of what party you may belong to. As a former Army Captain, I am ready to bring desperately needed leadership and accountability to the Freeholder Board. As a lawyer and small business owner, I have a plan to reduce your property taxes and make Union County more attractive to businesses who create jobs for our citizens. I am the only candidate to have received the endorsement of a newspaper, after having been endorsed by the Local Source. And most importantly, I promise to work for you, and not any political party. Regardless of your political affiliation, I urge you to vote for change on November 8, and vote Smith and Ortiz, column B.