Democrats Call for Formal Nomination Process Following Outcry Over Republican Freeholder’s Nomination of “Straight Pride” Activist to RVCC Board

Failure to Have A Formal, Public Nomination Process for Freeholder Appointments to Boards and Commissions Risks Integrity of County Government

[Somerville, NJ] – Somerset County Democratic Freeholder Candidate Melonie Marano called for immediate changes to the haphazard, crony laden board and commission nomination process the Republican Party has followed for decades. The call came the day after hundreds of concerned citizens and students filled a Raritan Valley Community College’s (RVCC) Board meeting following the discovery that board member Dr. Felecia Nace is an a anti-LBGTQ+ activist who spoke at the “Straight Pride” march in Boston last month.

“Someone like Dr. Nace, whose beliefs are in direct contradiction to our county college’s mission of inclusion and diversity, would never have been nominated except in a closed, secretive process like the one the Republican Party has used for decades,” said Marano. “The process leads not just to cronyism, but the resulting limited pool of applicants weakens our boards and commissions and creates a lower quality of services for our communities.”

When the media contacted Freeholder Pat Walsh about her nomination of Dr. Nace to the RVCC Board in 2017, she declined to comment and allowed Somerset County Republican Party Chair Al Gaburo to speak for her. In speaking for Walsh, Gaburo said, “I encourage anyone to check out Dr. Nace’s resume and challenge her credentials.”

Even if Dr. Nace’s anti-LBGTQ+ activism was on her resume for people to review, finding the resumes of people nominated by the Somerset County Republican Freeholders is often difficult since many are not on file.

In a previous Freeholder meeting, Freeholder Shanel Robinson called for standards to be enforced in the Somerset County Freeholder Board nomination process, asking for resumes for all nominations.  She stated that it is clear a new process is needed.

Marano and Robinson proposed the following:

  • A single section of the Somerset County website listing not only all boards and commissions, but vacancies and terms that end within the next 12 months; 
  • A web form for interested candidates to apply for open positions, including resume uploads and skill reviews;
  • Listing of all applicants under consideration on the agenda when a final vote is taken.

“Our students deserve better than board members like Dr. Nace who actively oppose portions of the college’s mission, and our residents deserve the best people on our boards and commissions,” said Marano. “Fortunately, we are just one vote away from being able to professionalize our nomination process, and I look forward to being that vote when I join Shanel and Sara on the Freeholder Board in January.”