Bergen County Executive
|County Executive of Bergen County|
|Term length||Four years; renewable|
|Inaugural holder||William D. McDowell|
The County Executive of Bergen County, New Jersey is the chief officer of the county's executive branch and oversees the administration of county government. The office was inaugurated in 1986 at the same time the Board of Chosen Freeholders, which plays a legislative role, was reconfigured. The New Jersey Superior Court had subsumed and replaced county courts in 1983. The Executive Offices are located in the county seat, Hackensack.
The Executive is directly elected at-large to a four-year term on a partisan basis. Since the first county executive took office, four individuals have served in the position. In 2014, incumbent James J. "Jim" Tedesco III was elected to his first term, which ends December 31, 2018. He is seeking reelection in 2018. As of Election Day 2017 there were 593,454 registered voters in the county, which in 2016 had estimated an estimated population of 939,151.
In 1972, the State of New Jersey passed the Optional County Charter Law, which provides for four different manners in which a county could be governed: by an executive, an administrator, a board president or a county supervisor.
A referendum to change the Bergen County form of government was held in 1974 and was rejected by a margin of 132,168 to 123,106, making Bergen one of four counties to reject proposals modifying the structure of county government, while four other counties passed changes. The measure was supported by the League of Women Voters and other groups as a method of improving the management of the county, while the loss of "home rule" in the county's 70 municipalities was one of the issues driving opposition to the referendum.
In 1985, a second referendum was held. The proposal to create an executive branch was approved by a high margin: of the 490,437 registered voters, 116,031 voted for and 70,331 against. The change also reduced the number of members of the legislative branch, Board of Chosen Freeholders, from nine to seven. The judicial branch, namely the county court, had been subsumed and replaced by the New Jersey Superior Court Law Division in 1983.
The executive has power to appoint a County Administrator as well as department heads (with approval of the Board). Responsibilities include preparation/submission of operating and capital budgets, introduction of legislation, the hiring and dismissal of personnel, and approval or veto Freeholder ordinances. The Board of Freeholders board have the power to investigate administrative actions of the Executive, approve ordinances and resolutions, initiate service contracts with municipalities, and adopt an administrative code.
McDowell, who at the time was County Sheriff, faced Democrat Matthew Feldman, a five-term member of the New Jersey Senate and former Senate President in the race. McDowell was endorsed by Doris Mahalick, Feldman's rival for the Democratic nomination. McDowell beat Feldman by a margin of nearly 20,000, capturing 112,619 votes (55% of ballots cast) to 92,649 (45%) for Feldman.
Schuber received a BA from Fordham University and a JD from the Fordham University School of Law. He is a senior lecturer on the faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University. He served in active duty in the U.S. Army (1972-1973) and as Army Reservist (1973-1984).
In 1972, Schuber was elected to the council in his hometown of Bogota, New Jersey, and in 1979, became mayor. He was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1981, where he served five successive terms. In 2011, he was appointed to a six-year term on the board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).
McNerney was raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. He attended Bergen Catholic High School, Bergen Community College and the University of Delaware before receiving an M.P.A. from Columbia University. McNerney and his family live in Ho-Ho-Kus.
He took office in January 2003 after being twice elected to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, in 1998 and 2001, defeating McNerney was reelected to a second term of office as County Executive in 2006, defeating former Freeholder Todd Caliguire. He lost reelection in the 2010 election to Kathleen Donovan in a race in which the Republicans captured all three open seats on the Board of Chosen Freeholders to regain control on the board.
In his February 2008 State of the County address, McNerney called for Bergen County municipalities with populations less than 10,000 to merge, saying "The surest way to significantly lower homeowners' property taxes is to merge small towns and reduce administrative overhead." Half of Bergen County's 70 municipalities have fewer than 10,000 residents each.
Donovan, is a graduate of Queen of Peace High School, earned a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University-Newark and was awarded a J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. She is a resident of Rutherford, New Jersey.
Donovan was a part-time public defender of her hometown, Lyndhurst from 1983 to 1988. From 1986 to 1988, she represented the 36th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly. She was first elected County Clerk in 1988 and was reelected in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. As County Clerk she also functioned as a Recorder of Deeds for Bergen County.
In 1994 Donovan was appointed by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She later became the chairwoman. Donovan stepped down as Port Authority Chairwoman in December 1995 in order to unsuccessfully run for Congress in the 1996 election, but she retained her seat on the agency's Board of Commissioners. Donovan remained a Port Authority Commissioner until 2002 when she was replaced by Gov. James McGreevey when her term expired.
Donovan unsuccessfully sought support to run for Bergen County Executive in the 2002 Republican primary, and lost a campaign for the 2006 Republican nomination for County Executive. Donovan ran for County Executive in 2010 and was swept into office with her three Freeholder running mates, in an election in which perceived corruption by the Democratic incumbents, rising spending and taxes were the major issues. Donovan won with 52.9% of the vote (117,104), while McNerney received 47.1% (104,366).
Tedesco was born and raised in Paramus, where he graduated from Paramus High School in 1971 and joined the Paramus Volunteer Fire Department shortly after. Before seeking public office in Paramus, he served as the Recreation Commissioner and as a volunteer youth coach for various boys' and girls' sports, doing so for several decades. Tedesco has been a Paramus Volunteer Firefighter for 37 years, and twice was selected to serve as Chief of the Department and the position of Deputy OEM Director. Tedesco served on the Board of Directors for the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey for two years. For 36 years, Tedesco worked for Public Service Electric & Gas, finishing his career as a Regional Manager. Prior to joining the management ranks, he was a union representative and member of Pipefitters Local 274 and UA Local 855 AFL-CIO. Tedesco also previously served as an instructor at the Bergen County Technical Schools' EMS/HAZ MAT section, teaching HAZ MAT courses.
Tedesco was elected to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on November 5, 2013 and took office in January 2014. Before beginning his term as Freeholder, he testified on the citizens' behalf at a Port Authority Board meeting on the Fort Lee lane closure scandal in November 2013.
After winning the Democratic nomination, Tedesco challenged incumbent county executive Kathleen Donovan. in an election in which the major issues were the county budget, consolidation of the county police and sheriff, and issues regarding lawsuits filed between the different branches of government. Tedesco won with 54.2% of the vote (107,958), ahead of Donovan with 45.8% (91,299), in a race in which Tedesco's campaign spending nearly $1 million, outspending Donovan by a 2-1 margin.
His first day in office, Tedesco approved an arrangement merging the Bergen County Police Department and the Bergen County Sheriff's Office. The deal went through following the approval of the freeholders.
In 2017, Tedesco signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for county employees to $15 per hour.
- Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Bergen County, New Jersey. Accessed March 20, 2018.
- "Jim Tedesco to seek reelection as Bergen County executive". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Statewide Voter Registration Summary" (PDF). New Jersey Department of State. November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- State & County QuickFacts – Bergen County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed April 9, 2017.
- State & County QuickFacts – Bergen County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed March 10, 2018.
- Miller, William (1974), Model County Administrative Codes Under the Optional County Charter Law of New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, retrieved February 28, 2018
- Phalon, Richard. "Democrats Take Over Bergen's Board", The New York Times, November 7, 1974. Accessed March 16, 2018. "The Democrats promised greater efficiency in government and were generally in favor of a proposition voted down yesterday by 132,168 to 123,106, a referendum on a charter revision that would have put the day‐to‐day operations of the county in the hands of an elected executive and turned the board of Freeholders into a legislative and policy‐making body. Similar propositions were rejected in Passaic, Camden and Middlesex Counties, and approved in Atlantic, Hudson, Union and Mercer."
- Parisi, Albert J. "Bergen to Vote on Executive", The New York Times, October 27, 1985. Accessed March 20, 2018. "In addition to voting for a Governor and Assemblymen on Election Day, Bergen County residents will decide, in a binding referendum, whether they want to change to a new type of county government and administration. The county now has a nine-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. Voters will be asked whether they want a County Executive type of government and a reduction in the Freeholder membership to seven."
- State v. Natoli, 237 N.J. Super. 52 (1989) 566 A.2d 1167 (New Jersey Superior Court November 20, 1989) ("The county district courts were abolished by L. 1983, c. 405, effective December 31, 1983, and their jurisdiction was then subsumed by the Law Division.").
- Parisi, Albert J. "Bergen Is Optimistic On Executive Post". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Hanley, Robert (October 30, 1986). "The Poitical Campaign; Bergen, After 271 Years, to Elect Fisrts Executive". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Robert D. Prunetti, County Executive of Mercer County, Plaintiff, v. Mercer County Board Of Chosen Freeholders, Defendant (Superior Court of New Jersey,Law Division November 13, 2001) ("In 1972, the Legislature adopted the Optional County Charter Law, providing a county the opportunity to reorganize its form of government into one of four alternative forms: (i) the County Executive Plan; (ii) the County Manager Plan; (iii) the Board President Plan; or (iv) the County Supervisor Plan. See N.J.S.A. 40:41A-1 et seq. Six counties have elected to reorganize their governmental structure pursuant to the Optional Charter Act. They are respectively: Atlantic, Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Mercer and Union Counties. Five of these counties...have opted for the County Executive Plan."). Text
- Rinde, Meir. "Explainer: What’s a Freeholder? NJ’s Unusual County Government System", NJ Spotlight, October 27, 2015. Accessed October 26, 2017. "Five counties -- Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Mercer -- opted for popularly elected county executives in addition to freeholder boards."
- Edge, Wally (16 April 2007). "Bill McDowell, first Bergen County Executive, dies". PolitickerNJ.com. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
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- "William P. Schuber" (PDF). Decotis Law. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- William "Pat" Schuber, Esq., BA, JD, Fairleigh Dickinson University. Accessed August 28, 2007.
- William "Pat" Schuber, Esq., BA, JD, Fairleigh Dickinson University. Accessed March 10, 2018.
- "Former Bergen County executive assumes role on Port Authority Board of Commissioners". NJ.com. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
- "The Port Authority of NY & NJ". www.PANYNJ.gov. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
- James, George. "Government; It's County vs. Mayor", The New York Times, April 4, 2004. Accessed February 16, 2011. "Mr. McNerney took office last year and is the first Democrat to hold the post. Efforts to build a shelter eluded his Republican predecessor, William P. Schuber, who suggested building one in 1998."
- Demetriades, Andoni. "2010 State of the County" Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine, The Torch student newspaper of Bergen Community College, p. 7. April 2010. Accessed September 19, 2011. "McNerney, who happens to be a graduate of BCC, then began his address. He spoke about his long history in the county, how he grew up in Teaneck and attended grammar school in Bogota."
- County Executive Dennis McNerney Archived December 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Bergen County, New Jersey. Accessed February 16, 2011. "Dennis McNerney is a lifelong resident of Bergen County. He graduated from Bergen Catholic High School, attended Bergen Community College, the University of Delaware, and went on to receive his Masters Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University.... He currently resides in Ho-Ho-Kus with his wife Catherine and their two children."
- Jones, Richard Lezin. "The 2002 Elections: New Jersey; Supporter of Newark Arena Is Elected Essex Executive", The New York Times, November 6, 2002. Accessed February 16, 2011. "In Bergen County, Dennis McNerney, a two-term Democratic freeholder, defeated Henry P. McNamara, a veteran Republican state senator, in the race for county executive."
- Gartland, Michael. "Donovan leads Republican sweep in Bergen", The Record (Bergen County), November 2, 2010. Accessed February 16, 2011.
- "County exec urges mergers of towns". NorthJersey.com. 2008-02-08. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- Kathleen A. Donovan Archived 2009-04-24 at the Wayback Machine, Bergen County, New Jersey. Accessed August 28, 2007.
- Fitzgerald's Legislative Manual: State of New Jersey (2007), Skinder-Strauss Associates, Newark, New Jersey, p. 325. ISBN 1-57741-245-1.
- "County Executive - Bergen County, NJ - Official Website". www.co.bergen.nj.us. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Editorial. "Republicans Triumph", The Record (Bergen County), November 4, 2010. Accessed December 27, 2014.
- Staff. "Election results", The Record (Bergen County), November 4, 2010. Accessed December 27, 2014.
- Ensslin, John. "Tedesco to be sworn in as Bergen County Executive Jan. 4", The Record (Bergen County), December 10, 2014. Accessed April 8, 2016. "James Tedesco will be sworn in as the new County Executive at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, in a formal ceremony at Bergen Community College."
- "Freeholder James J. Tedesco III". Bergen County.
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- Ensslin, John C.; and O'Neill, James N. "Tedesco upsets Donovan in race for Bergen County executive", The Record (Bergen County), November 4, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014. "Democrat James Tedesco, in a come-from-behind upset, won a hard-fought race for Bergen County Executive Tuesday, dealing Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan her first loss at the county level in 25 years."
- Ensslin, John C.; and O'Neill, James N. "Tedesco upsets Donovan in race for Bergen County executive" Archived 2014-12-28 at the Wayback Machine, The Record (Bergen County), November 4, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014. "Democrat James Tedesco, in a come-from-behind upset, won a hard-fought race for Bergen County Executive Tuesday, dealing Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan her first loss at the county level in 25 years."
- Ensslin, John (February 21, 2014). "Tedesco emerges to face Donovan". The Record (Bergen County).
- Staff. "Results Of Municipal And County Races", The Record (Bergen County), November 5, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014.
- Ensslin, John C. "Tedesco outspent Donovan 2-to-1 in Bergen County Executive race, final tally shows", The Record (Bergen County), December 4, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014. "Tedesco spent $990,980, compared with $429,213 spent by Donovan in her unsuccessful bid for a second four-year term, reports compiled by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission showed."
- Staff. "New Bergen County Executive Signs Deal Merging Police, Sheriff’s Departments", WCBS-TV, January 1, 2015. Accessed April 8, 2016.
- "Minimum wage for Bergen County workers is now $15 an hour". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
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