Somerset County Freeholders Use Taxpayer Money for Campaign

“They're stealing our money” charged Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair, when she saw the all Republican Freeholder Boards “special issue” Newsletter. While the Newsletter includes some information regarding other members of the Board and its calendar, the primary focus of the Newsletter is to tout the alleged “achievements” of the two freeholders up for election this year. New Jersey law is clear that this Newsletter is a reportable political communication. The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) deems a communication “political” if it’s circulated within 90 days of the election to an audience eligible to  vote containing reference to the “governmental achievements or objectives” of a candidate and is circulated with the candidate’s consent (N.J.A.C. 19:25- 10.10b). This special issue meets the test and is thus a reportable contribution to Freeholder candidates Scaglione and Caliguire. By law they are required to disclose who paid for the Newsletter and report it as a contribution. The special issue was mailed and paid for by the Freeholder Board, whose sole source of income is public money i.e. our money. Both the report to ELEC and the Newsletter should read “PAID FOR BY DOLLARS STOLEN FROM RESIDENTS OF SOMERSET COUNTY.” Schaffer called upon Scaglione and Caliguire to properly report the expenditures and repay the dollars. The link to the Newsletter is below. This charge has been forwarded to ELEC, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s office.

Somerset County Democrats support changing 'freeholder' title

Two Democrats who are running for Somerset County Freeholder this year would rather be running for county commissioner.                                                                                           Following the passage of a bi-partisan bill by the state Senate that would replace the title freeholder with county commissioner, Democratic candidates Shanel Robinson of Franklin Township and Sara Sooy of Bernardsville have challenged the current members of the Somerset County freeholder board to adopt a resolution supporting the bill’s passage in the General Assembly.   In a press release, the Democrats say the term freeholder dates back to the 18th Century and referred to office holders being comprised of debt-free property owners – which at the time were exclusively white males. They further note that New Jersey remains one of the last states in the country to still use the term. “Words and titles definitely matter, but this isn’t only about replacing a term rooted in racism and sexism,” said Robinson. “In a larger sense it’s about your willingness to adapt and change with the times, and it’s also about the fact the average taxpayer has no idea what a freeholder is or does. Updating the title to county commissioner is a smart way to promote transparency and increase civic participation.” “This is another missed opportunity by those in charge of Somerset County government to step up and modernize with the times,” said Sooy. “The Board of Chosen Freeholders has a tremendous role in addressing our everyday infrastructure needs, shaping educational opportunities for college students, and prioritizing projects that could produce sustained economic development in our communities. We need to increase awareness among taxpayers of that role, and by retiring this ridiculously outdated title, we can begin that conversation anew.” 'Race Card' The Republican response to the Democrats came from Al Gaburo, chairman of the Somerset County GOP, who downplayed the importance of the issue in an Aug. 2 email to this newspaper. “If the state legislature decided to pass a law changing the title of a countywide office holder in New Jersey they are free to do so and obviously the county would comply,'' he said. "However, the fact that the Democrat freeholder candidates think this is the issue keeping taxpayers up at night demonstrates how wildly out of touch they are with reality.'' He added that while Robinson and Sooy "shamefully try to play the race card,'' their opponents, Republican incumbents Patrick Scaglione and Mark Caliguire, "will stay focused on holding down county property taxes, maintaining our Triple A credit rating, and investing in key priorities like preserving open space, improving education and fixing roads and bridges.” The four are vying for two, three-year terms on the all-Republican freeholder board in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election. A copy of the bill that would change the freeholder title, S-402, can be found on the web at FULL ARTICLE HERE:

Hate Has No Home Here

July 18, 2018 Statement Against HateSomerset County Democratic Committee The Somerset County Democratic Committee is outraged at the racist flyers posted in our County. Although the flyer does not mention the President, it is his incendiary, divisive, racist statements that have given voice to these white supremacists. His unwillingness to denounce the Charlottesville neo-Nazis has encouraged and normalized public displays of bigotry. We call upon our Republican elected officials to do more than pass toothless resolutions and to take steps to stop this behavior. Our first amendment does not protect hate speech. Full Article Follows: Continue reading

Photo of the Week

Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Schaffer welcomed President Donald J. Trump back to New Jersey this afternoon at a rally protesting the President’s family separation policy.     Continue reading

Malinowski for Congress HQ Opening

CD7 Democratic Challenger Malinowski Formally Opens his Main Headquarters with Pallone By Insider NJ | May 12, 2018, 3:25 pm | in The Diner Booth Continue reading

Murphy Administration: First 100 Days

Three Major Initiatives Signed into Law, Several Bills On The Governor's Desk Continue reading

Democrats are Party of Fiscal Responsibility

When Paul Ryan and other Republicans call themselves fiscal conservatives, they’re basically doing a version of the old Marx Brothers bit: “Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”   Continue reading


More than 300 Somerset County Democrats voted unanimously to nominate Franklin Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson and Bernardsville resident and Somerset Hills School Board member Sara Sooy for Somerset County Freeholder. “I’m so proud to have Shanel and Sara representing the Somerset County Democrats as we work to bring Democratic values to the county level,” said SCDC Chair Peg Schaffer. “They are proven elected officials with long records of success they will extend to the county government.” Shanel Robinson is running for the second time, after coming within 1500 votes of winning a seat on the Freeholder Board in 2017. Shanel is an Air Force Veteran, two-term Councilwoman in Franklin Township, Information Technology executive, Christian minister, and grandmother.  She is committed to taking her famous commitment and energy combined with applying what she learned in her previous run to put her over the top in 2018. “Democrats have proven in Franklin and many other Somerset County towns that we can deliver for our residents,” said Robinson. “Sara and I have both delivered positive results for our constituents at the local level, and we’re excited to bring that success to the entire county as Freeholders.” Sara Sooy is a lifelong resident of Bernardsville, and works as a commercial banker. She has served two terms on the Somerset Hills School Board, and is receiving her Executive MBA from Rutgers University in May, 2018. Sooy has also served as a Commissioner on the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women since 2015. “I am honored to run with Shanel, as we work to bring new voices and ideas to reenergize the Somerset County Freeholder Board,” said Sooy. “As Freeholders, we will take a value-added approach through sustainable investments for the people and businesses of Somerset County.” Anyone interested in volunteering to support the Robinson/Sooy ticket can reach out by calling (908) 953-9300 x33 or emailing

Bernardsville Mayor to Finish Current Term and Seek Reelection as a Democrat

BERNARDSVILLE, NJ: Bernardsville Mayor Kevin Sooy has decided to seek reelection to a second four-year term as a member of the Democratic Party and will serve out the remainder of his current term as a Democrat. “I understand that, on its face, this decision may surprise some people,” said Mayor Sooy. “I want to stress that serving and running as a Democrat is consistent with my goals for our town and the issues I want to continue to pursue.”  “We are thrilled to have Mayor Sooy join the growing Democratic movement in Somerset County,” said Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer. “He is a committed public servant, and the Democrats welcome Kevin and everyone like him who wants to make a positive difference in Somerset County.” Bernardsville Municipal Democratic Committee chair Bob Frawley confirmed that the mayor has officially changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, and appeared at the committee’s candidate screening on Thursday, March 22. “Mayor Sooy participated in a lengthy, detailed, candid screening process with our members,” said Frawley. “We were all very impressed.  We’re happy to have the mayor on the team, and there’s no question in our minds that we share a vision for the future of Bernardsville and a commitment to a substantive, issue-oriented campaign.” The mayor said, “I am extremely impressed with the way our municipal Democrats have conducted their campaigns, particularly the bipartisan nature, civil tone, and emphasis on proposing workable solutions to problems.”  He added that he is “fully aligned” with the issues Bernardsville Democrats have championed in their last few campaigns, including infrastructure development, recreational facilities, downtown revitalization, open space and walkability, aquifer protection, safe housing in all neighborhoods, and fiscal responsibility. “Our town issues have no party labels,” mayor Sooy said. “They are hometown challenges that affect us all.  I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves for another four years and working with like-minded people of all parties and affiliations.” At the party’s candidate screening, members also endorsed Dr. Jeff Hammond for one of two open seats on the Borough Council.  Hammond, a retired trauma surgeon and former founder and chief of the trauma department at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, now works in an administrative capacity at Morristown Medical Center.  He is an avid bicyclist, active member in the community, and nearly 30-year resident of Bernardsville.   ###  

Somerset County High School Democrats Call for The Adults to Take Action On Gun And School Safety

For Immediate Release, February 22, 2018 Contact: SCDC Executive Director Nathan Rudy at, or Jason Lam at Bridgewater, NJ – The Somerset County High School Democrats SC HSD) today called on county, state and federal leaders to take common sense action on gun violence in the United States, and in particular on school violence. “The school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 teachers and students is the 18th this year alone,” said Jason Lam, president of the Somerset NJ High School Democrats. “Any high school student can see that guns are a serious threat to our safety, and it’s shocking that our government is unable to take action.” The SC HSD supports the national movement generated by the response of the Parkland survivors, and will have members participating in the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018 and attending the national March for Our Lives on March 24th in Washington D.C. “Too many times after a mass shooting there is a lot of talk for a week or two, and then the country moves on to other issues. Nothing changes,” said Lam. “This time we students aren’t going to let that happen, and we are going to make sure gun and school safety stay in the public’s eye until we get some action.” In addition to the Washington DC rally, the SC HSD are dedicated to moving gun and school safety forward by electing more Democrats in Somerset County, including two Freeholders, defeating Representative Leonard Lance, and reelecting Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Senator Bob Menendez. “The Republican Party has blocked common sense gun regulation for decades, and the only way to ensure there is action is to elect Democratic majorities,” said Lam. “We’re proud to have worked hard to elect Governor Phil Murphy and expand New Jersey’s Democratic majority and will continue to work to build Democratic majorities at every level to ensure action is taken.” For students and their supporters who are unable to travel to DC, the Somerset County High School Democrats, Somerset County Young Democrats and the Somerset County Democratic Committee will be holding the Somerset County March for Our Lives rally in conjunction with the national March on March 24. More information will be available in the coming weeks. “We’re so proud of these young people taking a stand against gun violence, and not letting the adults pass the buck again,” said Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair. “Now it’s up to the adults to actually do something more than offer thoughts and prayers.” The Somerset County High School Democrats have more than 200 members in four Somerset County schools, including Bridgewater High School, Watchung Hills High School, Ridge High School, and the Pingry School. Students and their supporters interested in joining the Organizing Committee for the Somerset County March for Our Lives rally, or in starting a High School Democrats organization in their high school, please contact Jason Lam at or Executive Director Nathan Rudy at ###