Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners outlines goals for 2022  


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The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners held its annual reorganization meeting, during which members reflected on the county’s efforts during 2021 and shared their vision for the future.


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The event on Jan. 6 began with the swearing-in ceremonies of re-elected County Commissioners Chanelle Scott McCullum, Shanti Narra and Ronald G. Rios, and Surrogate Claribel Cortes, before the reorganization meeting began.


The goal for 2022 is to focus on several critical areas, such as the overall physical and mental health and well-being of county residents, while continuing to make investments and lead the way in key areas of importance that impact Middlesex County beyond the pandemic, according to a statement provided after the meeting.



“Since I last stood before you in person at this event, we have lived under the shadow of the worst global public health crisis in a century. The world we live in today is much different than the world of two years ago,” County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement. “We have all lost family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors along the way. Nevertheless, while the COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to adapt to new difficult realities for our way of life, our ability to come together as a community, to lead together for the good of our county and our country continues to be the central idea that is helping us through this crisis.”


In 2022, Middlesex County will continue to lead together with its partners, Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, along with many other community partners like the Raritan Bay YMCA, to expand the Telehealth Pilot Program, according to the statement. This program launched in October 2021 to combat the inequities of healthcare in the county. The goal of this initiative is to increase the understanding and use of telehealth services within the Latino community, and to expand healthcare access to underinsured Middlesex County residents.

Additionally, the county will continue to perform free COVID-19 testing and expand their vaccination efforts, evolving with the needs of the community during this ongoing pandemic, according to the statement.


“The COVID-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the inequities of healthcare in our country. We saw more clearly than ever that limited access to healthcare, including basic information about the benefits of vaccination in general, can have a devastating effect not only on vulnerable and at-risk members of our community – but on our community as a whole,” Rios said in the statement.


In 2022, Middlesex County will continue to collaborate with key partners like mayors and municipal stakeholders to focus on their Destination 2040 strategic vision that focuses on the county’s economic development strategy, according to the statement.


“Destination 2040, spearheaded by the county’s Department of Transportation and overseen by Commissioner Charlie Kenny, is built upon input from residents, businesses, and municipal leaders, and is designed to consider the current and future needs of our community, all with an eye toward continuing to build a strong, well-prepared Middlesex County of the future,” Rios said in the statement.


This year, the county is investing in transportation safety and is launching an initiative called Vision Zero, which is aimed at reducing the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes throughout the county.


“Middlesex County will be leading the charge as the first county in New Jersey to develop such a plan and will be positioned alongside other leading counties and cities around the world that have demonstrated their commitment to end all ‘preventable’ traffic deaths and serious injuries,” Rios said in the statement.


Building on the county’s goal of ensuring Middlesex County is the best region to live, work and play, the Board of County Commissioners is focusing its efforts on building a stronger community where everyone from every background feels a sense of real opportunity and true belonging, according to the statement. From prioritizing opportunities to invest in vital education assets to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion, Middlesex County hopes to demonstrate what working together and leading together can bring.


“To help guide us in this area, in 2022, my colleagues and I will be creating an office dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging to guide the county in identifying opportunities to shape policies and operations that will sharpen our focus on these crucial principles,” Rios said in the statement. “We will be hiring a professional partner to guide us in the creation of this office, and ultimately, a director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, to oversee this office and ensure these vital principles are reflected in all that we do.”


In keeping with the county’s continued commitment to providing and expanding educational opportunities for residents, Rios lauded the recent hiring of Jorge E. Diaz as the superintendent of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School system.

Rios reaffirmed the board’s commitment to investing in the county’s educational institutions, saying, “Accordingly, in 2022, the county will be working with both Middlesex College, and the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, to explore investments for improvements and expansions to campuses and facilities alike.”


Joined in person at the event were Gov. Phil Murphy, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) and New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.


“I was glad to be able to join the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners for the swearings-in of Commissioner Director Rios, Deputy Director Narra, Commissioner McCullum, and Surrogate Cortes,” Murphy said in the statement. “Middlesex County is among the best-run counties in our state, and that is in no small part due to this group of dedicated individuals. I look forward to continuing our partnership with Middlesex County and on accomplishing key goals together.”


“Watching their work to bring the vision of opportunity and innovation in Middlesex to life, and to be a partner in that work at the state level, has been an honor. Continuing to invest in Middlesex County’s future, under their leadership, we look ahead to a year of more progress from cutting edge research and educational facilities and job creation to more opportunities for recreation and access to the arts,” Coughlin said in the statement.


“Under the leadership of Director Rios, Middlesex County continues to lead the way as the innovation hub for technology and health care for the state and the region attracting global businesses and state of the art research facilities. Middlesex County remains a great place to work, live and raise a family with expansive parks and open space, superior schools and a fiscally responsible government that has maintained an AAA bond rating for 21 years. I want to thank the entire Middlesex County Board of Commissioners and constitutional officers for their commitment to public service and their partnership in delivering real results for the people of Middlesex County,” Pallone, Jr. said in the statement.

Additionally, Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman joined the meeting virtually.


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