However, two of them said they will forgo the car if they win the seat.
Ines Garcia-Keim, Frank Raia, and Anthony Romano, all of whom have run for office before, would like to replace outgoing Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, who didn't seek reelection this year after 15 years on the board.
The board is made up of nine members representing different districts. Hoboken and Jersey City Heights make up the 5th Freeholder District.
Raia has said that as a sign of his commitment to the taxpayers, he will forgo both the salary and the county car if he wins. Garcia-Keim has said she won't use the car. Romano said he would "only use it for an official function."
The Democratic primary election is this coming June 3, and the general election will be in November. Fitzgibbons gets to keep his seat until Dec. 31, 2008.
Freeholders work in conjunction with the county executive, Thomas DeGise, for a three-year term.
Certain elected officials have come out in support of the candidates. Mayor David Roberts is behind Romano, a police captain who currently serves on the school board. Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason is supporting Ines Garcia-Keim, who has formerly run for school board, and 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo is backing Frank Raia, a developer who sits on the school board. Fourth Ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer last week said she still hadn't made up her mind as to whom she would support.
The candidates have provided short biographies, and were asked to explain why voters should choose them instead of their opponents. Their response to the latter was strictly limited to 250 words. Anything over the limit was removed.
Romano was born and raised in Hoboken and earned a master's degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University. He was a history and physical education teacher at Hoboken High School and is currently an adjunct professor at St. Peter's College in Criminal Justice.
He is a Hoboken police captain and municipal coordinator of the Hudson County Counter Terrorism Task Force.
Romano is a trustee in the Hoboken Police Supervisors Association and on the Board of Education. He is the chairman of the Hoboken Municipal Alliance against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Romano is also a member of the Hoboken Elks, Knights of Columbus, and the N.J. Fraternal Order of Police.
His response to the question of why you should vote for him:
"I sincerely believe that I can work with the different political and community leaders at every level to maximize the benefits for my constituents in the 5th freeholder district. This is due to my experience dealing with the problems in the community as a police captain and having to help solve them by working with various groups both born and raised and newcomers. I would bring a pragmatic approach to county government. Having spent my life in Hoboken and Jersey City, I have a certain knowledge of the history and problems that face both communities.
"I would like to keep the county portion of property taxes stable and if possible lower them. I would look at all fees and licenses to attempt to maximize revenues. I would review all line items in the county budget to look for consolidations, cuts and savings, due to the large amount Hoboken and Jersey City pay to the county. I would want the county to provide as many services possible to Hoboken and Jersey City to offset the municipal cost and help with their municipal budgets, for example, road repairs and maintenance of parks. We need to acquire as much funding as possible from the open space trust fund. Our infrastructure needs to always be maintained and improved. These are important issues to the people of District 5, both Hoboken and Jersey City are in a period of dynamic growth and change. Crime is always everyone's concern and I would work with the sheriff to utilize county resources."
Garcia-Keim was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and earned a scholarship to Barnard College, where she became a first generation college graduate. She moved to Hoboken in 1985 with her husband John Keim and has two children.
She has worked for 19 years in airline operations and customer service and over seven years' experience as retail store manager and buyer. She works in various groups and boards involved in environmental conservation, tenant advocacy, domestic violence, pay-to-play laws, charter schools, historic preservation and the arts.
Garcia-Keim has volunteered as a founding board member of the Hoboken Charter School, served as co-founder and chair of the Puerto Rican Cultural Committee Scholarship Fund, and as a state-certified counselor for victims of domestic violence, as well as a trustee of the Fund for a Better Waterfront, Hoboken's Quality of Life Coalition and the Hoboken Historical Museum.
"I am running for Freeholder because I strongly believe our government needs to be smarter about how it spends our money.
"There is a need to bring public awareness to a level of government that spends the most of our local tax dollars, yet receives little attention. Because many residents do not understand the specific responsibilities of county government, elected officials are not held accountable for their complacency. Our taxes are too high, and our level of services is too low.
"I am committed to fixing our toughest problems, like providing more open space, safer streets and better parks. I will bring the district a larger share of the county's open space fund for new parks to serve our growing population. I will adopt a policy on the reimbursement of freeholder expenses to prevent further corruption and abuse. We cannot continue to pay for perks and privileges while increasing taxes an average of 10 percent per year over last 10 years.
"The county must adhere to a schedule of road maintenance to fix their unsafe conditions. All road reconstruction must include features to increase pedestrian and bicyclists' safety. With a fair bid process, these items will not increase the cost of public projects.
"It is my priority to appoint a Hoboken representative to the County Schools of Technology Board to ensure our children benefit from the dollars we contribute to the system.
"My experience working in community groups and elected officials as an advocate of local issues gives me the tools."
Raia served as councilman for the city of Hoboken and a trustee on the Hoboken Board of Education. He was also a commissioner of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority. He was a member of the Board of Directors for HOPES (Hoboken Organization Against Poverty and Economic Stress) Head Start for 25 years. Raia is also a member of the Elks and Rotary, and he's a sponsor of the Mile Square Theatre, little league baseball and PAL football.
He has developed affordable and market-rate housing and is one of the developers involved in the northwest redevelopment area, including the new Shop-Rite.
"As a lifelong resident of Hoboken and Hudson County, I am fully aware of the needs of the people in the 5th Freeholder District. The issues that confront the residents of Hoboken and the Jersey City Heights are matters that I have dealt with throughout my career, be it on the Board of Education, the City Council, and even in the private sector.
"I will bring to the office of freeholder a tremendous amount of valuable life and business experience that will benefit all of my constituents. In addition, I am committed to being a very accessible and full-time freeholder who will always be available to listen to the people and respond to their concerns.
"We need a new approach to county government, and I intend to provide it. This year, 2008, is proving to be a year of change throughout our nation. I want to be part of that change here in Hudson County. Of utmost importance is our need to hold the line on taxes. That is why I will vote against any and all efforts to raise your taxes. We are already paying way too much at the county level. Rather than increase taxation, what we need is a better and more equitable allocation of public funds that will guarantee to Hoboken and the Heights our fair share of government services.
"We have been overtaxed and underserved for too long. I intend to rectify this situation, and fight to secure for our area all of the services to which we are entitled."
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