What's a Freeholder?


Term dates back to the New Jersey State Constitution of 1776

“All inhabitants of the colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same, and have resided within the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be (declared a “freeholder”) and entitled to vote for Representative in Council and Assembly; and also for all other public officers, that shall be elected by the people of the county at large.

Most other states have a county commission or county council.

Which branch of the government does the Board of Chosen Freeholders represent? It all depends on the county.

The board can be Executive, Legislative, or a combination

What is the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders?

Made up of 5 Freeholders, elected in staggering election periods

Each of the Freeholders is Elected at-large

A full-time County Administrator manages the day-to-day operations of County Government.

The board selects a director each year from amongst its members to lead meetings.

What are the responsibilities of a Freeholder?

Each Freeholder chairs a standing committee:

Human Services

Finance and Administrative Services

Public Works

Public Health & Safety

Each Freeholder oversees:

County Higher Education and Vocational Technical Schools

Road and Bridge Maintenance

Parks and Recreation

Social Services

County Budget

Candidates for Somerset County Freeholder

Douglas Singleterry is serving his fourth term on the North Plainfield Borough Council where he has spearheaded initiatives dealing with economic development and sustainability.  An attorney, he is a recipient of the Service to the Community Award presented by the New Jersey State Bar Young Lawyers Division. He is the co-author of a book on commercial transaction law and a peer-reviewed article on the international law of genocide.


Paul Drake is a lifelong resident of Somerset County, who lives in Hillsborough with his wife. Paul has served on the Township Committee in Hillsborough, the Hillsborough Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.  Paul brings experience as a Professional Planner and an environmental expert and educator.  He has worked for the National Park Service, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the State Planning Commission and now works at PSE&G as a Public Affairs manager.  He also teaches urban planning at Rutgers University.