The Role of County Government
"What Is A Freeholder?"
Somerset County is governed and managed by a Board of Chosen
Freeholders. The board consists of five members; one or two are elected
each year from the County at large to serve three-year terms.
New Jersey is the only state where elected county officials are called "freeholders." Most other states elect a county commission or county council. The term "freeholder" is a carryover from colonial days, when only property owners - then known as freeholders - were entitled to vote, and one freeholder represented each municipality. Eventually, the number of freeholders in each county was reduced by statute and is now determined by referendum, and cannot exceed nine members.
Freeholders elect from among themselves a director who conducts their meetings. Each Freeholder in Somerset County chairs a standing committee: Human Services, Finance and Administrative Services, Public Works and Public Health & Safety. The Freeholder Director and County Administrator are ex-officio members of each committee.
The position of Freeholder is considered part-time, although due to the complexity of County government today, an increasing amount of time is spent by these elected officials on County business.
The Freeholders employ a full-time County Administrator who manages the day-to-day operations of County government. The Clerk of the Board of Freeholders oversees the work of their offices. Department heads are appointed in accordance with statute and by resolution of the board. Somerset County currently has 1,101 full-time employees and 153 part-time employees in 52 divisions.
Among the many essential services provided by Somerset County government are higher education, road and bridge maintenance, curbside recycling, parks and recreation, employment training, social services, recording of deeds and wills and much more.
Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders
2016 Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders
Peter S. Palmer, Deputy Director • Mark Caliguire • Patricia L. Walsh, Director
Brian D. Levine • Patrick Scaglione
(pictured left to right)
Meet the Freeholders: Click on the names below to read the individual bio's.
HOW TO CONTACT THE
20 Grove Street
PO Box 3000
Somerville NJ 08876
Telephone: (908) 231-7030
Fax: (908) 231-8754