The top issues facing Cape May County are the Lack of Diversified Economic Business and Employment Opportunities and the Opioid Crisis. Studies have shown how the issues are connected. As elected officials we must strive to improve the overall quality-of-life by diversifying the county’s economy so we are not solely dependent on tourism for year-round success while working together to stop wasteful spending and make smart financial decisions. Brendan and Liz believe in a regional approach to economic development by fostering public-private alliances and partnering with neighboring counties to target manufacturers and suppliers of emerging industries such as aviation, technology, and agritourism. The lack of job opportunities has caused a mass exodus of our young people in seeking employment and building their careers. We risk the threat of becoming a year-round senior community and a six-month playground. We must develop a plan that changes our county’s direction.
New Jersey is already one of the most expensive states to live, and now the coronavirus is ravaging our economy, and families are being hit hard. We must do whatever we can to avoid balancing county and municipal budgets with increased taxes further burdening taxpayers in what is already one of the highest taxed states in the nation. Enough is Enough, We've Been Taxed, Tolled, and Fee'd to Oblivion!
America has an addiction crisis, opioid deaths are now killing more Americans than car accidents and Cape May County is not immune. Addiction affects families of all ethnicities and socioeconomic status. The opioid crisis has shattered the lives of countless Cape May County families. Whether Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, young or old addiction threatens our families and we must do whatever it takes to solve this epidemic.
As Freeholders Brendan and Liz will relentlessly fight for the tools, resources, and funding our law enforcement, medical providers, and drug prevention workers need to combat this crisis while tenaciously advocating for State and Federal funding for education, treatment facilities, and the expansion of programs that fight the epidemic.
Cape May County has the distinct honor of having the highest percentage of veterans of any county in New Jersey. Our veterans and service men and women deserve our sincere respect and utmost gratitude. It is our responsibility to see that our veterans appropriately receive the benefits they earned for serving our country.
The county also has the unique designation of being a “Coast Guard Community”. As one of a select counties in the country, we are home to U.S Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. Being the birthplace of the Enlisted Corps, our county plays a key role in the security of our nation.
As Freeholders, Brendan and Liz will make it a priority to promote available resources and benefits for our veterans. Sciarra and Casey will also continue to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Coast Guard community and the people of Cape May County.
It is our duty to support our veterans and the men and women who are actively serving. Sciarra and Casey find it unacceptable that veterans experience mental health disorders, substance related disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injuries at disproportionate rates to the civilian population. Sciarra and Casey find it infuriating that so many veterans face unemployment and are far too often pushed into homelessness.
Brendan and Liz will work tirelessly with the county Veterans’ Bureau, state and federal agencies, and community partners to make certain that our veterans and their families have adequate access to healthcare, education, jobs, and the resources owed to them to thrive in civilian life.
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOSYSTEM
Being a peninsula makes our county one of the most vulnerable areas in the state as we witness the effects of a changing climate. Looking at forecast models from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Protection, our county faces serious threats. It is imperative that we take immediate steps towards sustainability.
The county is well-positioned to make this a top priority using the framework of Sustainable Jersey. Established by the College of New Jersey, the N.J. League of Municipalities, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the N.J. Board of Public utilities, the non-profit provides tools, training, and financial assistance to support communities pursuing sustainability programs.
Of the 16 municipalities in the county, 14 participate in the program, most of which received certifications for their achievements. As Freeholders, Brendan and Liz will work with our local green teams and environmental commissions to address issues such as nuisance flooding, beach erosion, and dredging in making Cape May County a showcase for Sustainable Jersey communities.
FIX THE PAST AND LEAD THE FUTURE
Prohibit Nepotism and conflicts of interest of county officials.
Compensate and promote employees based on merit, not favoritism.
End political job rewards with a fair hiring practice.
End a One-Party rule with transparency and free-thinking.
Bring down steep hikes in county spending.
Stop wasteful spending and make smart financial decisions.
Prioritize bridge and road repairs.
Make the county a showcase for Sustainable Jersey Communities.
Ensure Cape May County receives its fair share.
Put People before Politics and stop the insiders first, tax and spend agenda.
Homelessness can be an invisible issue, but Cape May County is facing a growing chronically homeless population. Charitable organizations like the Cape Community Church, Cape Hope, the Branches, and Family Promise do exceptional work offering food, clothing, support and more to the homeless, disabled, elderly, and marginalized. Although charitable organizations do what they can more support from the public sector is required to solve this issue.
Brendan and Liz believe everyone is entitled to live with dignity and nobody living in Cape May County should go without food or shelter. They will advocate for the creation of a County Rescue Mission to ensure those who have fallen on hard times do not slip through the cracks and receive the resources they so desperately need.
NEPOTISM AND FAVORITISM
Recent events have highlighted relationships to family and friends among government officials and staff. It seems everyone has a relative or friend on the county tax rolls. The Freeholder Board continues to be plagued by a lack of imagination, favoritism, and never-ending lawsuits that send our tax dollars down the drain.
Business-as-usual has led to a complacent, less efficient, and less transparent county government with no real forms of checks and balances. We must elect new voices to the Freeholder Board to end the dysfunction and provide common sense solutions. New regulations need to be put in place to regulate nepotism throughout the county.
Nepotism by county officials leads to conflicts of interest. The family relationships of county employees need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis with specific safeguards put in place to avoid conflicts. Merit in compensating, promoting, and hiring county employees must replace the current practice of favoritism based on nepotism and politics.
Brendan and Liz will fix the past by leading the future with new mandates to treat employees fairly, eliminate favoritism, and the never-ending lawsuits that keep the Freeholder Board in a constant state of dysfunction sending our tax dollars down the drain.
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Brendan and Liz will prioritize bridge and road repairs. Beyond public safety, investments in our roads and bridges are critical in keeping our tourism economy strong. We have been told police officers are instructed to take their seat-belts off “just in case” when they cross the Middle-Thorofare Bridge connecting Wildwood Crest to Cape May. Look at what happened in Avalon and Sea Isle when the Townsend’s Inlet Bridge was closed during the peak summer season due to safety concerns. Local businesses can attest to their financial losses and the overwhelming need for bridge repair.
Recently, County Aid State Transportation Funding was announced and once again Cape May County gets the short end of the stick. Not only are we getting the least amount of County Aid transportation funding in the state, but the amount is less than half of what our neighboring counties of Atlantic and Cumberland are receiving. This is just another example highlighting the urgent need for new voices on the Freeholder Board.
Cape May County contributes a large percentage of funds to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a state, but we’re not seeing those funds come back. The lack of action to rebuild our roads and bridges not only negatively impacts our economy but is an existential threat to the safety of residents. We need assurance all available routes will be open and reliable in the event of an evacuation.
The county taxpayer will not be able to pick up the tab by themselves for much-needed county bridge and road repairs. The State and Federal government are going to have to step up. Brendan and Liz will be unrelenting in their pursuit for State and Federal funding making sure Cape May County receives its fair share.
Current county leadership appears stuck in the mud, too comfortable with complacency, and seemingly unable to tap the right resources or make the right connections to bring home Cape May County’s fair share. We must elect new leadership to enhance county government, making it more efficient, transparent, and responsive to taxpayers.