Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) slammed Gov. Phil Murphy over a measure announced Thursday that would rename county freeholders to county commissioners.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic with the state budget facing a $10 billion hole, unemployment in disarray, the DMV with long lines and fist fights at its locations, and businesses going under every day,” Scharfenberger said. “But now Governor Murphy has decided to focus his energy on changing the name freeholder? This is absurd.”
New Jersey is the only state that calls county officials “freeholders.” The term refers to a person who owned land without any debt and originates from old English.
The Democrats are in agreement over the proposal, which has earned a degree of bipartisan support from State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville).
But Scharfenberger, a professor of archeology at Monmouth University, thinks it’s a misstep and a waste of resources.
“For hundreds of years we have had county freeholders to the complaint of no one – men and women of all races, ethnicities, and creeds have proudly served their counties as elected freeholders,” he said. “Now we’re going to spend wasted hours and countless financial resources changing the name of an elected office simply because it came from an era years ago and has no bearing on what it means today?”