Franklin’s Shanel Robinson Returned To Post As SomCo Commissioner Director

Governor Phil Murphy swears in Somerset County Commissioners’ Director Shanel Robinson during the Commission’s January 7 reorganization meeting. (Screenshot courtesy of Somerset County Commissioners.)

Fresh off a November victory returning her to her Somerset County Commissioner’s seat, Shanel Robinson on January 7 was once again voted in as Commissioner Director.

Robinson won re-election to the Commission in November, along with Commissioner Sara Sooy.

The annual Commission reorganization meeting was held at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg.

County Commissioner Melonie Marano was elected Deputy Commissioner at the meeting.

Robinson is a former Franklin Township Councilwoman, having left the office in 2019 after she won her first election to the then-Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders the previous November.

Gov. Phil Murphy was on hand at the January 7 reorganization meeting to swear in Robinson and Sooy. Robinson was sworn in as Commission Director by U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).

Speaking before he swore in Robinson and Sooy, Murphy said that politically, 2021 “was not an easy year,” especially for Democrats.”

“Somerset County stood tall,” he said, speaking of election day. “People showed up from both sides of the aisle and they made their voices heard. And that’s the way it should be.”

“This was a full and fair and free election, and I’m more than honored to stand with these two outstanding commissioners and swear them in,” Murphy said.

“To be a servant leader has never been more important,” Robinson said in her Director’s address.

“For the second year in a row, we are experiencing a new surge in Covid-19 cases,” she said. “But we are in a very different position this year, thanks to the 77 percent full vaccination rate, the highest in New Jersey.”

Speaking of money the County stands to receive in federal American Rescue Plan funds, Robinson said that roundtable discussions were held with groups from different segments of the County, including business, non-profit and tourism.

From those meetings came a set of objectives Robinson said the County would focus on.

Among those, she said, were to become “a leader in public health by providing vaccination, testing and coordination with private and public parties.”

She said the County would “better connect” communities such as Franklin with Raritan Valley Community College.

She said teh County will “work with the business community to help them find the finest employees possible.”

Robinson also said the County will work to establish a “tourism and hospitality industry in Somerset County” by “encouraging entertainment tourism, taking advantage of cultural and historical sites, award-winning golf courses … and so many more.”

“We look forward to leveraging with state-owned assets in our region as the nation gets ready for its 250th anniversary in 2026,” she said.

“If there is one thing the commissioners and I have learned from 2021, it’s that partnerships and cooperation are vital if we are to emerge successfully and stronger from the challenges we face,” she said. “We will come out on the other side, and stronger for it.”

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