LYNDHURST—John Mitchell, a challenger in Bergen County’s race for the Board of Chosen Freeholders said he is running for reelection in November for two reasons: 1. He wants to bring Bergen County back to a two party system and 2. He believes his budget methodology can benefit residents of Bergen County.
“Right now, Bergen County is largely represented by Democrats,” Mitchell said at a Wednesday night fundraiser for his campaign. “I don’t want to return to the old days when Democrats were completely in charge of Bergen County. I have heard from the public that it is also a concern for them.”
Mitchell served as a Bergen County Freeholder from 2010 to 2013 but lost his bid for a second term during the November 2013 election. The margin was small with now-County Executive James Tedesco garnering almost 300 more votes than Mitchell, forcing the incumbent to concede. The loss gave Democrats a 5-2 majority on the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“Right now, it is essentially a one-party system in Bergen County,” he said. “What I have heard from voters is that they are very eager to have two parties making decisions together.”
While Mitchell says that the current Board is full of “good, hardworking people,” the candidate also claims that the 2014 budget process would have gone differently had he served a second term.
“I follow a zero-based budget method,” Mitchell told PolitickerNJ. “What that means is that government managers need to justify all of their budgeted expenditures, rather than the current Bergen County approach of only requiring justification for incremental changes to the budget.”
Though the vote to approve the Bergen County budget was 7-0 and showed approval from the five Democrats and two Republicans who were then on the Board, Mitchell says that, had be been on the board, his approach could have helped determine what areas of the budget could be cut.
“We need to start at zero, not start at the current budget and keep adding on,” he said. “That is not a way to save money.”
Mitchell says the support from his fellow Republicans has been strong as he pursues a seat on the Board.
“I honestly would not have run if I didn’t see such remarkably positive support from my fellow Republicans in Bergen County,” he said.
At Mitchell’s Wednesday night fundraising event, that support was evident. Guests included East Rutherford Councilman Mike Homaychak, District 37 Chair Tom Toscano and Fair Lawn Mayor John Cosgrove, among others.
Mitchell is one of three Republican challengers along with Daisy Ortiz-Berger and Ken Tyburczy who are challenging democratic incumbents Vice Chairman Steve Tanelli, Freeholder Tracy Zur, and Freeholder Thomas J. Sullivan Jr.
“I am up for the challenge,” Mitchell said.