The Somerset County Board of Commissioners reorganized selecting Commissioner Shanel Y. Robinson to lead the board for her third consecutive year and Commissioner Doug Singleterry to serve as deputy director.
“This is my fifth reorganization with this board, and I feel the same sense of awe at the faith and trust the people of Somerset County place in us to be their servant leaders,” she said. “We have worked hard as Commissioners to live up to serve every resident of Somerset County, no matter the town or community they call home, no matter their race or religion, no matter their politics. Somerset County’s greatest strength is our diversity, and ensuring county government serves every resident is our greatest goal.”
The Somerset County Board of Commissioners held their annual reorganization meeting at Raritan Valley Community College’s theater in Branchburg on Jan. 6 highlighting the achievements of the past year and laying out a vision for more success in 2023.
Gov. Phil Murphy swore in the three returning Somerset County officials – Sheriff Darrin Russo, County Clerk Steve Peter, and Commissioner Melonie Marano.
The Board of Commissioners highlighted a number of successes from 2022 and presented a vision for continued progress in 2023. Among the highlights were:
- Providing more than $3.5 million to eleven towns for recreational open space funding for improvements such as community pavilions, pickleball courts, swimming pool repairs following Hurricane Ida, and community gardens;
- Allocating $7.6 million to 13 municipalities that represent 60% of county residents for water system and sewer repairs;
- The release of the nation’s first County Preservation Plan that incorporates open space, farmland, and historic preservation;
- Utilizing American Rescue Plan funds to allow 900 households to stay in their homes and ensure landlords were made whole;
- Securing millions of dollars in grants and allocations for the Somerset County VoTech and Raritan Valley Community College to expand educational opportunities targeting next-generation good-paying industries.
“Along with Sheriff Russo, Clerk Peter, and Surrogate [Mohamed] Jalloh, we are the most visible people in the county government, but it’s the staff who do the day-to-day work of taking care of Somerset County and its residents,” Singleterry said. “We owe these folks a debt of gratitude for the progress we’ve made, and the progress they’ve teed up for us in 2023 and beyond.”
In addition to continuing to implement and expand programs such as those above, the Board of Commissioners noted that in 2023 the County would work to:
- Reopen The Stable at Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge as part of a complete reimagining of the park that will rehab historic sites;
- Increase environmental education opportunities, develop new event spaces, and create interconnected paths between Lord Stirling resources, local municipal parks, the Great Swamp, and residential neighborhoods to encourage walking and biking to amenities instead of driving;
- Strategically fund projects that will draw tourists in 2023 and beyond, including an ambitious art project in downtown Somerville and a new annual lacrosse tournament next summer that will bring thousands of visitors from around the country to our hotels, stores, and restaurants.
- Partner with the state of New Jersey, local non-profits, historical societies, and municipalities to put a spotlight on Somerset County’s incredible Revolutionary War history for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.
- Improve transportation systems to help residents easily and affordably get to their classes, jobs, medical appointments, shopping, and other necessary appointments. This is not only about improving Somerset County’s program, but about partnering with New Jersey Transit and the county’s municipalities in a comprehensive effort.