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Charles Garrett Speaks on Need for Bipartisanship at Atlantic County Reorganization Meeting

He and Colin Bell are the only two Democrats on the nine-member board.

Atlantic County Freeholder Charles Garrett welcomed some “help” in the form of incoming Democrat Colin Bell, but also spoke about imbalance when it comes to appointments for committees when the county held its reorganization meeting Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 2 at the Atlantic County courthouse.

“We sit up here and talk about how great we work together, but the agenda doesn’t reflect that,” Garrett said. “There were four appointments today, and they were all Republican appointments. Where’s the bipartisanship in that? You can say what you want, but facts are facts.”

Garrett was referring to the appointment of four Republican Freeholders to represent Atlantic County in the New Jersey Association of Counties. The appointments included Frank Formica, James Bertino, Alex Marino and John Risley.

The New Jersey Association of Counties is a non-partisan group that advocates for legislation, regulation and policy directives that empower the state’s individual counties, according to the Association’s website.

Freeholder Rich Dase, who represents District 4 and is a Galloway resident, believes the leadership positions for the Board of Chosen Freeholders is representative of the percentages.

The board is made up of nine freeholders, seven of which are Republicans. Only Garrett and Bell, who was elected to the board in November, are Democrats.

“Colin Bell is the Chair of the Advisory Boards and Charlie Garrett is the Chair of Human Services,” Dase said. “The percentages reflect the freeholder board. We are not leaving out the Democrats. That is not the case.”

During the meeting, each of the other freeholders spoke about working in a bipartisan manner. During his acceptance speech, Bell spoke of the need for the board to work together in that way.

“If we work in a bipartisan way, we can move the county forward,” Bell said. “We can work together to make this a better county for everybody.”

Bell was sworn in by Judge Nelson Johnson, the Boardwalk Empire author who was sworn in as a freeholder 37 years ago.

“For me to do this now is a very special moment,” Johnson said. “I’m swearing (Bell) in now, and for the next three years, you’re going to be sworn at.”

Formica and Bertino were each sworn in after being re-elected in November. Formica was re-appointed to his position as Chairman. Joseph McDevitt was appointed Vice Chairman. He replaces Frank Giordano, who lost his bid for re-election to Bell in November.

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