In case you missed it—and it’s easy to miss way down at the Eilat end of South Jersey— here’s what’s cooking in the Salem County GOP.
1. November 8, 2016: Voters approved a referendum (76% to 24%) to cut the size of the Salem Board of Freeholders from seven to five members. Voters also approved a referendum (77% to 23%) cutting the Freeholders’ salary ($25,410) by 20%. Amid the $5000 haircut, two incumbents, Republicans Julie Acton and Lee Ware, were re-elected. Republicans have a 6-1 majority. All five seats will be up for election in 2017.
2. December 9, 2016: Acton unexpectedly resigned her seat, saying the referendum “effectively voids” the three-year term she had just won. Acton had been the first woman in Salem County to serve as Freeholder Director, having serving in that role since 2013. Her resignation made Deputy Freeholder Director Dale Cross the Acting Freeholder Director.
3. December 29, 2016: Acton was appointed Executive Director of the Salem County Improvement Authority, a part-time job that pays $50,000-a-year. It operates the county landfill.
4. January 18, 2017: Republican Scott Griscom, 69, farmer and retired teacher, was appointed to fill Acton’s Freeholder seat.
5. February 1, 2017: Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno visited Salem County to honor Acton’s service as a Freeholder.
6. February 2, 2017: Salem GOP Chair Fran Grenier and Vice Chair Linda Dubois endorsed Guadagno for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
In other words, even as the voters reduced the number of freeholders from seven to five and cut the pay of those who remained, one of those “extra” freeholders managed to land a new county job that pays more than twice what she made as a freeholder. And when the LG came down south to honor her, she walked away with endorsements from the top two party officials.
Salem is New Jersey’s smallest county, with a total population of 65,166—the whole county has about as many people as the town of Old Bridge. And speaking of Old Bridge, Guadagno also has the support of Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry.