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Levine To Replace Zaborowski On County Freeholder Ballot

Incumbent Freeholder said he wanted to avoid conflict over new job at RVCC.

Brian Levine1

Mayor Brian Levine has been tapped to run for Somerset County Freeholder on the Republican ticket.

Mayor Brian Levine thought he wasn’t going to have to do any campaigning for himself until at least next year.

He was wrong.

The Republican was picked Sept. 4 to replace Somerset County Freeholder Bob Zaborowski on November’s ballot after the longtime Freeholder and former township mayor decided against running for re-election.

Zaborowski has been a Freeholder since 2000. His decision not to run comes after he accepted a position at Raritan Valley Community College, North Branch.

Levine, who was picked by acclamation by the Somerset County Republican organization, will be on the ballot with incumbent Freeholder Peter Palmer of Bernardsville. The two will run against Democrats Anthony Pranzatelli of Bound Brook and Joan Pritchard of Bridgewater.

Levine said running for Freeholder was not something he’s contemplated, mainly because Zaborowski was already on the board, and there is consensus in the county party that there should not be more than one member from any given town.

But when county Republican chairman Alfred J. Gaburo asked those who were interested in running in Zaborowksi’s place to contact him, Levine said, he didn’t take long to make his decision.

Levine said he spoke with several municipal Republican chairman, all of whom were supportive of his decision.

“This is not something I was contemplating,” he said.

Zaborowski, a former township mayor who is finishing his fifth, three-year term on the county board, said he decided to not run for re-election because he wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest with his new position.

“The county supplies a good chunk of funding for the college, so when it comes to budget time in the Spring, there is an obvious conflict,” he said. “I just wanted to avoid the conflict, so I decided not to run.”

RVCC spokeswoman Donna Stolzer said Zaborowski is the college’s new construction project manager. The $100,000-a-year job entails “oversight and management of construction and maintenance projects, including the planned expansion of the science center and construction of a new workforce building. Responsibilities include project planning and completion to meet budget and funding constraints and time deadlines,” she said.

Zaborowski(Jan07)

Somerset County Freeholder Bob Zaborowski has decided against running for re-election.

Zaborowski pointed to a number of what he considers achievements by the board, including keeping the county tax rate stable, preserving open space and creating a solar energy program which is saving money.

He said among the things he will remember from his time on the board are “the tremendous people I’ve worked with over the past 15 years, my colleagues on the board, county employees, the administration, and staff people I’ve run into throughout the county over the pat 15 years.”

“I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of really great people, made a lot of friends,” he said. “I have enjoyed being on the Freeholder board,” he said.

Levine said should he win a seat on the board – and the odds are good for county Republican candidates in Somerset County – he would focus on many of the same areas he focused on while in township government.

“I put on my CPA hat, so I’m always interested in looking at finances,” he said.

Levine said he would also look into how to get more county towns to share services.

“We (Franklin Township) saved $100,000 when we gave our health department to the county,” he said. “I think there are a lot of economies of scale out there.”

The mayor said he would take a “global look” at issues such as open space preservation and recreation in the county.

Thanks to a 2007 law enacted by then-Gov. Jon Corzine, Levine would be prohibited from serving as both a county Freeholder and mayor.

In the event that Levine wins, the municipal Republican party will have to nominate to the Township Council up to three people to fill out the remainder of Levine’s mayoral term, which expires at the end of 2015. The all-Democratic council would then pick his replacement.

Levine said that should he win the county election, it will be a bittersweet victory.

“I’ll miss being mayor” if he wins, he said. “I really enjoy it.”

Freeholders are paid $21,902 yearly, with a $1,000 bonus for any year in which they serve as director.

Zaborowski said it’s fitting that a Franklin resident should be running in his place.

“Franklin is the biggest town in the county, so I think it’s good that Franklin does keep a representative and I think that Brian Levine will be an excellent choice in there.”

 

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