Middlesex County freeholders lay out vision for 2019

The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 2019: Freeholder Deputy Director Charles E. Tomaro, left to right; Freeholders Shanti Narra, Charles Kenny, Blanquita B. Valenti, Kenneth Armwood and Leslie Koppel; and Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MIDDLESEX COUNTY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION
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The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 2019: Freeholder Deputy Director Charles E. Tomaro, left to right; Freeholders Shanti Narra, Charles Kenny, Blanquita B. Valenti, Kenneth Armwood and Leslie Koppel; and Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MIDDLESEX COUNTY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION

More than 500 attendees came out to hear members of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders lay out their vision for the coming year during the 2019 reorganization meeting.

On Jan. 7 at Middlesex County College in Edison, Ronald G. Rios and Shanti Narra were sworn into office prior to the regular freeholder meeting, as each was re-elected to another term in November’s election.

Rios was once again elected to serve in 2019 as director by his colleagues on the board. In addition, Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro was elected deputy director of the board, according to information provided by the Middlesex County Office of Communication.

Special guest speakers included Gov. Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Congressman Frank Pallone.

“As a resident of Middlesex County, I’ve experienced Freeholder Director Rios and Freeholder Narra’s leadership first-hand. I am proud of their successes and contributions to our neighborhoods, and I look forward to continuing our work together in 2019,” Coughlin said in the statement.

The freeholder board’s vision for 2019 consists of four main initiatives: healthcare, transportation, Destination 2040 for economic growth, and arts and culture.

Rios announced that Middlesex County is finalizing the recently announced partnership with RWJBarnabas Health to bring the most medically advanced care available to older residents. In the first quarter of 2019, the Roosevelt Care Centers are expected to start operating under the new agreement, according to the statement.

In 2019, Middlesex County is working to transform transportation by creating a new Middlesex County Department of Transportation. This new department, under the leadership of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, will serve as the catalyst and integrator of best ideas, policy and investment approaches from these partners to improve the current transportation infrastructure, according to the statement.

In 2019, the county will focus on economic development and strategic planning with Middlesex County’s Comprehensive Master Plan, Destination 2040, that will envision what Middlesex County will look like, and what it needs to be, through the year 2040, and will focus on enhancing quality of life for residents and continued growth for businesses, according to the statement.

Finally, the freeholder board pledged to continue its commitment to expand arts and cultural opportunities in the county. In 2019, coinciding with the opening of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the board will be creating The Arts Institute of Middlesex County. The Arts Institute is a revolutionary new approach to arts management in the county and will serve to enhance Middlesex County’s arts partnerships.

Rios summarized, “As we think about key areas and priorities of focus in 2019, we are constantly looking for ways to make the biggest impact. Ways in which we can play to our unique strengths as a service provider to our residents and businesses, and partner to our municipalities and other partner organizations.”