The hardest thing about being in politics is the politics. Truthfully, it’s not something I have much of a tolerance for. I’m an ideas man. I see a problem and I want to fix it. I like logic and honesty, which may sound like an odd thing to have to say, but you’d be surprised how many people these days seem to lack both completely or just don’t have the time for them. What I don’t have time for is games—they serve no one and they have no place in serving the public.
People today are looking for real leadership—maybe in part because it seems to be so sorely lacking from so many politicians or would-be politicians at all levels of our government. The people we serve need substance. Not empty accusations. Not grandstanding for the sake of show. Not whining about problems without offering solutions. And not making up facts when the mood strikes.
The truth is, in Monmouth County we’re providing that leadership. We’re making the tough decisions. We’re partnering with our municipalities to fix problems. And we’re getting things done.
In the last month and a half, our Public Works team has sprung into action on two separate occasions to perform emergency repairs to two county bridges after unforeseen incidents necessitated immediate repair work to ensure safe travel. In both instances, the repairs were completed ahead of schedule by at least two weeks, significantly reducing the impact on local residents who were inconvenienced by the closures.
Last month, our Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution which dissolved the Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission. Since its inception in 1914, the Mosquito Commission has provided a much needed function for the County in keeping pesky mosquitoes at bay and lowering the spread of insect-borne disease. But as a semi-autonomous authority, the structure of the Commission meant duplicative services and waste.
By dissolving the Commission, we’re bringing the functions of mosquito extermination in-house, under direct County supervision, without the go-between of a separate Commission. The necessary work still gets done. But the waste is gone. The processes and procedures are streamlined.
Oh, and by the way, the County was able to recoup $421,000 in one fell swoop by auctioning off the Mosquito Commission’s Jet Ranger Helicopter in favor of sharing one existing helicopter for both shade tree and mosquito extermination.
It’s the kind of logical, sensible and beneficial consolidation that we’re looking to pursue in all areas of the County. Not just consolidation for the sake of consolidation. But real, productive consolidation that eliminates redundancy, saves time, streamlines processes, and keeps more money in our taxpayers’ pockets.
I recently had the opportunity to present a proclamation to a group of our Monmouth County lifeguards who just took home the national championship at the Nautica USLA Lifeguard Championships in Virginia Beach. They wrested the title from the Los Angeles team who had captured the overall team title for the last 27 years. Talk about leadership. When someone’s life is truly in your hands, there’s no room for nonsense. No amount of bull will help you through. You have no choice but to put in the work and persevere with dogged determination.
That’s the same kind of leadership I want in my elected officials, and it’s the kind you should, too. I may not be a lifeguard (I promise you will never find me in a pair of red swim trunks at a Freeholder Meeting—you’re welcome) but I don’t take lightly the idea that in many ways your lives are in my hands. That’s why I skip the politics. No nonsense. No bull.
Gary J. Rich, Sr.
Monmouth County Freeholder