A Freeholder is an elected, part-time legislator at the county level of government in New Jersey. The title “freeholder” is derived from an old English term used to refer to a person who owned an estate of land free of debt. The title was adopted in New Jersey during the Colonial period, when only those who owned real estate free of debt were eligible to participate in elections or hold public office.
Union County is governed by a nine-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The Freeholder Board sets policies for the operation of the County. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by an appointed County Manager. The members are elected at large to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with three seats coming up for election each year. The Board has a Chair and a Vice-Chair; these positions are rotated among the members of the Board each year.
The Freeholders perform the County’s legislative and executive functions. In their legislative role, they formulate and adopt a budget and set county policies and procedures. In their executive role, they oversee county spending and functioning. Many of the administrative duties are delegated by the Board of Chosen Freeholders to the County Manager.
Each of the Freeholders serves on various committees and boards as a part of their duties. These include; Homeland Security Committee, Policy and Administrative Code Committee, Workforce Investment Board, Industrial Pollution Control Authority, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Union County Economic Task Force, Advisory Board of the Disabled, and Fire Services Advisory Board, to name a few. In addition, the Board oversees the County’s Office of Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.