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Meet Your Candidates for Somerset County Freeholder & Sheriff at the Only Forum Scheduled

The League of Women Voters will host a Somerset County Candidates Forum at Somerville High School on Monday, September 16, at 7 pm.

Freeholder candidates Melonie Marano (D) and incumbent Patricia Walsh (R) will answer questions beginning at 7 pm.

Sheriff candidates William Parenti (R) and Darrin Russo (D) will answer questions beginning at 8 pm.


Melonie Marano (D) is a former Green Brook Mayor and Green Brook Township Committeewoman. She now lives in Dunellen and is vice president of business development at Universal Vending Management, a privately-owned Westfield-based company with customized programs for coin, currency, or card-operated vending machines, including: beverages, snacks, and laundry machines, kiddie rides, gum ball dispensers, and amusements such as video games, pool tables, air hockey, and cranes.

Marano has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Rider University (1985) and management degree from Fordham Gabelli School of Business.

Patricia L. Walsh (R), a Green Brook resident, is also a former Green Brook mayor and Township Committeewoman. She is employed as a visiting nurse with Holy Redeemer Home Care, serving Somerset, Middlesex, and Union counties. She earned her "Registered Nurse Degree," at Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing in Camden; and she earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Thomas Edison State College.

Walsh has served on the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders since 2008.


William G. “Bill” Parenti (R) has served as chief of police in the borough of North Plainfield since 2004. He lives in Watchung, and has 36 years of law enforcement experience. He is president of the Somerset County Association of Chiefs of Police, and he says he prides himself on being a "third generation police officer."

Darrin Russo (D) is a retired lieutenant from the Franklin Township Police Department, where he served for 30-plus years. He lives in the town of Somerset. He has served as liaison to the Somerset County Narcotics Task Force and was a Somerset County Superior Court recognized court expert in narcotics. From 1996 to 2002 he served on the NJ State PBA executive board as sergeant-at-arms trustee and vice president.

Russo ran for Somerset County sheriff three years ago and came close to beating then incumbent Sheriff Frank Provenzano (R). Provenzano is not running for reelection this year.


The office of sheriff is not a department of county government. It is an independent elected office. No individual or small group hires or fires the sheriff, or has the authority to interfere with the operations of the office. The sheriff is accountable directly to the Constitution, statutes, and the citizens of the county. New Jersey has 21 county sheriffs, each of whom are elected to a three-year term. Generally, the sheriff’s office’s responsibilities include prisoner transport and courthouse security, the handing of seized property through sheriff sales, and the patrolling of county parks and other facilities. Somerset County’s Sheriff’s Office also runs a variety of other important programs & units such as a child safety seat program, click-it-or-ticket, a gang & terrorism unit, a K-9 unit, and more. (From the Somerset County Website)

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