BELVIDERE, NJ (Warren County) – Freeholder James R. Kern, III, of Pohatcong, surrounded by family members and standing in front of a crowd of well-wishers in the Warren County Courthouse, took the oath of office for a three-year term on the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the annual Reorganization Meeting.
Once officially seated, he and Freeholder
Richard D. Gardner moved to name Freeholder Jason J. Sarnoski as the board’s
director for 2019. A freeholder since 2011 who is now in the third year of his
third term, Sarnoski is taking up the director’s gavel for the third time.
Kern was sworn in by State Sen. Michael
Doherty, a former Warren County freeholder, as he family stood with him:
parents Joan and James R. Kern, Jr., brother John Kern, sister Elizabeth
McGuinness, and his girlfriend, Carina Sitkus.
In his first remarks as a freeholder, Kern
thanked his family and friends, and highlighted some of the areas where he
hopes to steer county government. He said the county should continue to forge a
strong relationship with Warren County Community College, noting, “This
institution is a tremendous asset and continues to be an example of what
happens when proper funds are allocated. As a graduate of Warren County
Community College, I can personally attest to the great work that these
educators do each day, and I look forward to working with them closely in the
Kern also said he wants the county to
increase its efforts to inform residents about what county government does, and
the services it offers. Explaining that government at all levels must adapt to
the changing technology around us, Kern said, “With new media tools at our
disposal, agencies can communicate and share information quicker than ever.
This is about improving communication with our residents and providing a high
level of transparent government. Once we are successful, people will be able to
see our government in action, and learn of the many great services Warren
County already provides.”
Sarnoski began his remarks by praising newly
retired freeholder Edward J. Smith, who the board surprised with a plaque
commemorating his service. “He will be sorely missed by this board and all that
worked with him,” Sarnoski said of Smith.
Sarnoski said his focus for the coming year
will be to assure that Warren County continues to have the low debt, low taxes
and stable government that was been brought about by the hard work of the
freeholder board and county staff.
He also said the county workforce is aging
and seeing many retirements, and county government’s practices need
modernization. Sarnoski is working on an organizational plan to meet the needs
of the future and hire the best talent, all while keeping the taxpayer in mind.
“We must look at every aspect of county
government that we can control to guarantee that our goals and values are aligned
with our policies and procedures,” Sarnoski said. Attracting and retaining
businesses will help to lower taxes, and so “we must make it easier for the
businesses we seek to be able to establish and grow in Warren County,” he
Gardner pointed to the progress the county
has achieved, including the opening of the new Southwest Branch of the Warren
County Library system in Greenwich Township last year. “We have to modernize,
look at things when we can, and when we can afford to do it,” he said.
In reorganization business, the freeholders
set a meeting schedule for the year – regular meetings for the most part will
be on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month – and continued to
designate The Star-Ledger as the official newspaper for posting advertisements
and notices required by law, with the Daily Record as the alternate official
With Smith’s departure, the board switched up liaison responsibilities for its three members. The full list of which departments, boards and commissions each freeholder will be responsible for, and the municipalities to which each will be the liaison, is published on the Warren County official website at co.warren.nj.us/freeholders.html.