Somerset County Democrats Applaud Russo and Marano’s Swearing In, Historic Reorganization Of Freeholder Board


Governor Murphy, House Members Watson-Coleman and Malinowski Participated in Historic Transfer of Freeholder Board and Sheriff’s Office Control to Democratic Leadership.  Hundreds of New Jersey Democrats crowded the Historic Somerset County Courthouse today to celebrate Governor Phil Murphy swearing in Melonie Marano as the newest Somerset County Freeholder and Darrin Russo as the new Somerset County Sheriff.  

"I am thrilled to swear in a Democratic majority on the Somerset County Freeholder Board for the first time since 1965,” said Governor Murphy. “This change didn't happen by accident -- it's due to incredible leadership from Chairwoman Peg Schaffer, dynamic candidates like Melonie Marano and Darrin Russo, key investments by our state Democratic Party that helped strengthen their campaigns, grassroots leaders who devoted their time and effort to turning Somerset County blue, and the committed message of building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that is resonating here and throughout our state.” 

After Marano was sworn in, Shanel Robinson was unanimously elected Freeholder Director and Sara Sooy unanimously elected Deputy Director by the bipartisan board officially marking the transfer of control to the Democratic Party for the first time since 1965. Robinson is the first African American to serve as Somerset County Freeholder Director, and Sooy is the first Latina to serve as Deputy Director. 

“I am very proud of these wonderful Democratic women taking over the leadership of the Somerset County Freeholder Board, and for Sheriff Darrin Russo to oversee county law enforcement,” said Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Schaffer. “Shanel, Sara, Melonie and Darrin bring vast personal, professional and governmental experience that will demonstrate that our county government can, and will, do better by putting people first.”

“I am proud to be a part of this Board, and look forward to working together with this bi-partisan team to do the best for our county’s residents, businesses and visitors in an open and transparent manner,” said Melonie Marano upon being sworn in by Governor Murphy.  “I am very excited to be a part of working with the county, municipal, state and federal governments to make wonderful things happen for the people of Somerset County.”

“I am honored that the voters chose me as their Sheriff, and look forward to working with Somerset County’s sheriff’s and corrections officers to deliver innovative community policing for the people of Somerset County,” said Sheriff Russo.  “The opportunities presented with the new leadership at the Freeholder Board are many, and I look forward to partnering to make a difference in the lives of Somerset County’s residents.”

“After a year of service on this board, I know how fortunate we are to have the team that’s in place. While our priorities will change our commitment to the people of Somerset County will not,” said Director Robinson. “I have been given the awesome responsibility of leading the county as the director and I am required to not only take an oath but to live by and uphold the oath along with my Air Force core values— integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all I do.”

“I give special thanks to my fellow board members for entrusting me as your Deputy Director. In just one year alone we have made incredible strides together,” said Deputy Director Sooy.  “My final request is for all our Somerset County elected officials: that we humbly serve the people through unification and simply put people before politics.”

Following the historic reorganization meeting, the Somerset County Democratic Committee invited everyone to join them at the Village Brewing Company on Main Street in Somerville.

Dignitaries at the historic swearing in included:

  • NJ Governor Phil Murphy
  • US Representative Bonnie Watson-Coleman (NJ12)
  • US Representative Tom Malinowski (NJ7)
  • NJ State Senate Majority Leader Lorretta Weinberg
  • NJ State Senator Bob Smith (LD17)
  • NJ State Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (LD22)
  • NJ Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (LD17
  • NJ Assemblyman Roy Freiman (LD16)
  • NJ Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (LD16)
  • Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter
  • NJ Democratic Party Chair John Currie
  • Essex Democratic Committee Chair Leroy Jones
  • NJ State PBA President Pat Colligan
  • State Troopers Fraternal Association President Wayne Blanchard
  • Middlesex-Somerset County Central Labor Council President Wayne Martiak
  • Lauren Guastella
    published this page in News 2020-01-04 12:02:53 -0500