Paul Drake - (D) Hillsborough - for Somerset County Freeholder
Paul Drake, a candidate for Somerset County Freeholder, brings experience as a professional planner, an environmental expert, and educator. He has worked for the National Park Service, the NJ 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.
Platform relevant to Monty
"When the Mary Jacobs Foundation announced they were going to close their doors earlier this year, we were all concerned about the library services for Rocky Hill and for Montgomery," Drake said. "It is a testament to Democratic leadership on the Freeholder Board, which helped to broker the agreement reached between the Mary Jacobs Foundation, the borough, the township, and the Somerset County Library system, to keep the Mary Jacobs library open for the next two years. The agreement also extends to allow the library in Rocky Hill to stay open after the completion of the new Montgomery library by reducing the Mary Jacobs library footprint and keep their doors open in Rocky Hill," Drake said.
"The new Montgomery municipal building and library is an example of how the County Freeholder Board can partner with municipalities to ensure the highest quality services are provided at the lowest cost to each taxpayer. Montgomery Township has needed to expand its municipal services. The decision of the Democratic Freeholder Board to maintain the county budget flat allows the county to protect our AAA Bond Rating, which allows the Somerset County Improvement Authority to fund municipal projects at the most competitive interest rate."
Platform and Goals:
Building Our Future Together:
● Alignment of municipal priorities with state and federal resources
● New planning initiatives tied to small business recovery, such as child care and elder care
● Community public health investments to increase walking, biking, and hiking trails throughout our municipalities
● Support for multi-modal infrastructure improvements that provide for an expanded one- seat rail to NYC Establish Somerset County as a leader in the fight against climate change:
● Promoting efficiencies to reduce overall county-wide energy use
● Supporting energy resiliency with solar and battery storage for critical facilities
● Expand upon the county’s electric vehicle plan to coordinate charging station locations and utility assets
● Develop an Open Space Management Plan (OSMP) integrating parks, trails and preserved farmland to maximize carbon reduction Support continued Democratic Fiscal Responsibility:
● Pursue grants and shared services and other non-traditional ways to provide county services, such as securing carbon credits from forest restoration efforts
● Support walkable downtowns to create experiences for consumers unmet by online retailing
● Establish rehabilitation tax credits, renters tax credits and retail rent structure tied to profit sharing
● Require clear, transparent, accountable reporting for all spending
Local County Parks:
“Somerset County has a wealth of parks and green spaces. Many people consider that to be one of the more attractive attributes of our county. As a county commissioner (freeholder), I would like to develop an Open Space Management Plan to identify ways in which we can integrate parks, trails and preserved farmland to maximize carbon reduction,” Drake said.
Increasing Access to the County College
"I am interesting in exploring partnerships between RVCC/Somerset Vocational and Rutgers University,” Drake said. ■