Taxes Biggest Issue in Freeholder Candidate Debate
Independent endorses Democrats during forum
The candidates for Bergen County Freeholder Board agreed on one thing: Taxes will be the biggest issue for voters come Nov. 8.
But they laid out different ways to deal with that issue at a candidates forum at Bergen Community College on Tuesday.
The five candidates are vying for the seats of David Ganz, a Democrat who is running for re-election with Assemblywoman Joan Voss, and Bernadette McPherson, also a Democrat, who isn't seeking re-election. Republicans Joel Brizzi, of East Rutherford, and Anthony W. Rottino, of Franklin Lakes are hoping to wipe the Democrats off the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Brizzi accused Ganz, who has served on the Board for 9 years, of presiding over tax increases and corruption during his tenure.
"We've heard a lot of lip service about 9 years of service and 9 years of dedication," Brizzi said. "I pay taxes in Bergen County and it's been 9 years of almost bankruptcy because I've been taxed and taxed and taxed."
Brizzi and Rottino are hoping to ride the momentum of 2010, when Republicans swept into offices throughout Bergen County. Brizzi said the GOP would preside over a "new direction for Bergen County.
A fifth candidate, Edward Brunner, endorsed Ganz and Voss at the debate.
"If you don't vote for me, vote for one of these two," he said, gesturing to the Democrats seated to his right.
Brunner said he was a fiscal conservative, and said the County needed to reduce spending. One way of doing that, he said, was to eliminate the County Executive's office, which he called a "figurehead."
Ganz said County Executive Kathleen Donovan had overstepped her boundaries by purchasing a building in Hackensack for $1.24 million to house the Municipal Court without a vote from the Freeholder Board.
"I feel for [Bergen County Assignment] Judge [Peter] Doyne, who does need more space, but there are other ways to deal with this and it's important that Freeholders be given consideration for it," he said.
Rottino said the Democrats had made bigger, more wasteful expenditures during their time in power, citing the dispatch center in Mahwah and cost overruns at Overpeck Park.
All the candidates, aside from Brunner, pushed for the sale of Bergen Regional Medical Center, which the Bergen County Improvement Authority is considering. Voss said the County's 19-year contract with the hospital management was "terrible" and said Bergen County should study the sale of the hospital.
"The County should absolutely not be in control of or running the facility," Voss said.