A seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders governs Bergen County. Bergen County consists of 70 municipalities, including Ridgewood. On November Third, voters will fill two out of seven total spots on the Freeholder Board.
Effective January, the Board of Chosen Freeholders will be called the Chosen Board of County Commissioners. This past August, Governor Murphy signed a legislation to rename the title of “Freeholder” to “Commissioner,” since the term “Freeholder” was coined when only white male landowners could hold elected office. With a few months left until the name-change takes effect, eligible voters will still see the term “Freeholder” on their ballots this year.
RHS alum and former Ridgewood Mayor, Ramon Hache, is one of the candidates running for the position. Hache attributes his preparation for this role to his Ridgewood education: “I believe the education I received in the Ridgewood Public School system prepared me for every challenge I have faced personally, professionally and politically. I realize how fortunate I am for it. A great part of my motivation to have served as Councilman and Mayor was rooted in my gratitude for everything the Ridgewood Community has given me. I saw public service as a way of giving back.”
When asked about his motivations to run for this position, Hache stated that he is “running for Bergen County Freeholder because every family here deserves the same opportunities I had.” Hache believes that “Bergen County is a great place to raise a family and [that he is] eager to work hard to make it even better by helping our businesses, focusing on education, pedestrian and traffic safety as well as issues affecting older adults and veterans.”
Four candidates are running for the two open seats; Kistner and Tsigounis are representing the Republican Party, and Hache and Voss are representing the Democratic Party. The GOP has not won a seat on the Freeholder Board since 2013. Kistner, as quoted in North Jersey Media, believes that Hache and Voss are the current frontrunners.
If elected, this will be Hache’s first term as Commissioner overseeing a $700 million budget. The 2020 election has been anticipated for quite some time, and while the presidential race is garnering the vast majority of attention, down-ballot elections are also extremely important. Hache has high hopes for the future: “while keeping Bergen County strong and building the best possible future for our residents is not without its challenges, I am optimistic about what lies ahead.”
Graphic: Shriya Dani