Monmouth County voters are fortunate to have three well-qualified, civic-minded candidates to choose from in this year’s election for an open seat on the Board of Freeholders. But Democrat Sean Byrnes’ passion for cutting government spending and increasing transparency separate him from the field.
Control of the freeholder board, now in the hands of the Democrats after decades of all-Republican membership, is again on the line in this election. Curley raised concerns that a Democratic majority on the board would enable the state party leadership to gain control over jobs and contracts in Monmouth County.
But Byrnes does not appear to be beholden to his party’s political bosses. In fact, he has been critical of some of the patronage appointments and contracts handed out with little or no oversight during the past year. Byrnes said he was pleased with the current freeholder board’s decisions to have in-house legal and engineering services and “doing away with a system that allowed handouts.”
In Red Bank, Curley successfully fought machine politics and helped keep a helipad, a patronage-job visitors center and a solid waste station from being built in the borough.
Rosenthal, a retired financial analyst with Merrill Lynch, has been active with several volunteer programs and is passionate about helping people in need, especially during these tough economic times. He says his presence on the freeholder board would make it truly bipartisan, and he promised greater oversight in the budget process.
Curley and Rosenthal both have strong credentials. But Byrnes is exceptional, the best choice in a field of three worthy candidates.
Byrnes, Republican John Curley and Independent Stan Rosenthal are seeking the seat being vacated by Freeholder Director Barbara McMorrow, who opted not to seek re-election this year, citing health reasons. Curley, vice president of an auto dealership and a former Red Bank councilman, was narrowly defeated by Democrat Amy Mallet in last year’s election.
Byrnes, an attorney and Middletown township committeeman, is bright, articulate and has an uncommon grasp of issues affecting Monmouth County residents.
His review of the county budget has enabled him to pinpoint departments “ripe for cutting,” and he has identified specific positions within departments that have more personnel than needed to function well. He says he will push for across-the-board 10 percent budget cuts, as well as directing some department heads to find further cuts.
A proponent of openness in government, Byrnes said he would make sure all county budget data and other information of interest to residents would be posted online. He lamented the apathy he has seen about county government, and said having more information easily available would encourage residents to get involved and provide input on ways to make government more efficient and responsive.
Byrnes’ extensive volunteer and professional background have given him hands-on budget and management experience that would serve him well on the freeholder board.
A private-practice attorney with no public contracts, Byrnes has served on the Red Bank Board of Education and the boards of directors for the Community YMCA, the Parker Clinic and the Charter School. A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, he served in the Coast Guard for 22 years before recently retiring as a commander.