Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski has been a lifelong advocate for parks, education, and community service and has built on that commitment while serving on the Freeholder Board.
She was elected to her first term in 2004 and was re-elected in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. As Freeholder Chairwoman in 2007, she promoted initiatives for shared county-local services to reduce costs and increase efficiency. With her Freeholder colleagues, she works to continue ensuring high-quality, cost-effective service
For several years, she has served as the Freeholder liaison to the Human Services Advisory Council, which coordinates the services of the county and various agencies and organizations to seniors, children, and those in need. In recent years, she has been honored with awards from the United Way of Greater Union County, Community Access Unlimited, and Jewish Family Services.
As a member of the Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, Freeholder Kowalski has worked with the Board to add hundreds of acres of land to the Union County parks system, preserved for public recreation and nature conservation. She has championed initiatives to extend funding for open space and recreation, and she regularly participates in Adopt-a-Park, Adopt-a-Trail, and Bio Blitz programs. An active advocate for flood control, she is a member of the Cranford River Maintenance Committee, and she also helps at river cleanups and other projects.
A supporter of the arts, Freeholder Kowalski frequently attends events in Union County’s diverse communities. She has served on the board of the Union County Performing Arts Center and is a recipient of the Advocates for New Jersey History Government Leadership Award. She has been honored by the Union County Women’s Political Caucus as a Notable Woman in Politics.
As a result of work by Freeholder Kowalski and her colleagues on the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, NJ Transit began direct service to New York on the Raritan Valley Railroad line for several weekday trains. She has also served on the Cultural and Heritage Programs Advisory Board, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Committee on the Status of Libraries.
Freeholder Kowalski grew up in Cranford and graduated with honors from Cranford High School. She has a Master’s degree in Journalism from New York University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She is married and lives in Cranford.