FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2011
ESSEX COUNTY FREEHOLDERS RE-ELECT
Unanimous Re-Elections take place during the Board’s January 5th Reorganization Meeting
(Newark, NJ) – Freeholder Blonnie R. Watson of Newark and Freeholder Ralph R. Caputo of Belleville were re-elected President and Vice President, respectively, of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 2011 during the Board’s Annual Reorganization Meeting held on Wednesday, January 5, 2011, at the Hall of Records.
Freeholder Vice President Ralph R. Caputo (left) of Belleville and Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson (right) of Newark were sworn-in to their leadership positions on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the Board’s Annual Reorganization Meeting. (Photo by Glen Frieson)
Freeholder President Watson was nominated by Freeholders Carol Y. Clark of East Orange, Patricia Sebold of Livingston and Rufus I. Johnson of Newark, while Freeholder Vice President Caputo was nominated by Freeholders Linda Lordi Cavanaugh of West Orange, D. Bilal Beasley of Irvington and Samuel Gonzalez of Newark. Watson and Caputo, both re-elected unanimously, were sworn-in by Judge Jerome St. John of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex Vicinage.
Upon taking the oath of office, Freeholder President Watson thanked her colleagues for their votes and expressions of support, saying, “To all of you, I am deeply honored and grateful for your vote of confidence in re-electing me as President. To take this oath of office for the fifth time is both inspiring and humbling.”
She also expressed pride in the many accomplishments and major projects completed in 2010, including the roll-out of the Essex County Wellness Discount Program, a Board initiative, which offers discounts on a range of health products and services including drug prescriptions, eye exams and eyeglasses, diabetic supplies and more. “I am especially proud that with our County Executive we were able to adopt a balanced budget in 2010 without the burden of major tax increase to our residents, and without any layoffs of county employees. Because of proper long range planning and making the right and hard decisions, we will be able to accomplish the same in 2011.”
Essex County Superior Court Judge Jerome St. John (left) administers the Oath of Office to Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson (center) during the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ Annual Reorganization Meeting held at the Hall of Records in Newark on January 5th. The Freeholder President was accompanied by her husband, Lewis Watson, who held the Bible. Photo by Glen Frieson
Freeholder President Watson has been an At-Large member of the Essex County Board of Freeholders since 1996, having been elected to five consecutive 3-year terms, and will begin her fifth consecutive year as the Board’s President. Prior to beginning her first term as President in 2007, she served as Vice President of the Board from 1998-2002. She serves as President of the High Park Gardens Cooperative Corporation in Newark and as a member of the Board of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. Freeholder President Watson is also a housing consultant and a retired U. S. Postal Service executive.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Jerome St. John (left) administers the Oath of Office to Freeholder Vice President Ralph R. Caputo (center) during the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ Annual Reorganization Meeting held at the Hall of Records in Newark on January 5th. The Freeholder Vice President was accompanied by his wife, Celeste, who held the Bible. Photo by Glen Frieson
In his remarks, Freeholder Vice President also thanked his colleagues, saying, “I want to thank you for re-electing me as your Vice President for another year. I appreciate your vote of confidence, and I know the excellent working relationships we share will be invaluable to us as we tackle difficult issues, together, in the months to come.” He recounted the many accomplishments of recent years, stating, “These accomplishments have restored pride in Essex County and made it especially rewarding to serve in government.” He warned, however, that “…as we begin a new year, we must face the reality of hard times ahead. This is our new challenge, and we must seize this new opportunity to serve the residents of our county with the same determination. As we begin the process of reviewing the 2011 County Budget… fiscal restraint and awareness of the financial burden on the taxpayers must guide us. We also must commit ourselves to looking far and wide for new sources of recurring revenue to lighten that burden.”
Freeholder Vice President Caputo was first elected to the Freeholder Board in 2002 to represent Freeholder District V (Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley). He was re-elected in 2005 and 2008, and is beginning his fifth consecutive year as Vice President of the Board. Caputo enjoyed a long and distinguished career in education that began as an elementary school teacher in Newark, and then progressed to numerous high-profile administrative positions, including: Urban Education Special Consultant in the New Jersey Department of Education, advisor to the Commissioner of Education on state legislation, Northern Region Area Chief for the Title 1 Office, Assistant and then Acting Essex County Superintendent of Schools, Assistant Superintendent of the Essex County Vocational Schools and Associate Superintendent of Schools for the City of Orange. Freeholder Vice President served two terms in the New Jersey General Assembly in the late 1960’s, and was returned to the Assembly by the voters of the 28th Legislative District in November of 2007 and again in November 2009 to represent the municipalities of Belleville, Bloomfield, Irvington and portions of Newark.
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Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 558 Hall of Records, Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695