Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced his bid for re-election to a sixth term from Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo’s IBEW Local 269 union hall in Lawrenceville:
Thank you, Wayne for your kind words! Few legislators work as hard for the people as Wayne DeAngelo, and Wayne, you have our utmost respect. Let’s give our Assemblyman a round of applause!
And speaking of working hard, this country was founded on hard work by people like all of you here. Working hard feels good and pausing to reflect on the fruits of our labor is important. It’s gratifying.
It has been an incredible honor to serve as county executive of the GREAT County of Mercer for many years, and I, too have reflected on some of our most important accomplishments.
We know in politics and life that sometimes memories can be short so let me remind everyone. Twenty years ago, I took on the Republican political machine and won. As a politician and leader of our party I rejected the model of “do what I say” and I have, in all my time as County Executive, sought to hear the voices of all our residents.
Since my first election we have had stable, Democratic leadership in Mercer County, at the county level and in local governments.
Instead of fighting constantly for political advantage just for the sake of fighting for political advantage, we have used that leadership to make Mercer County a much better and more inclusive place.
I have worked cooperatively with all our elected officials, Democratic and Republican, to act in the best interest of Mercer County: to create jobs, build needed public improvements to our roads and facilities, to provide needed government services, to help our people and make Mercer County a place where we all want to live.
It has been an incredible honor to serve as county executive of the GREAT County of Mercer for many years, and I have reflected on some of our most important accomplishments.
Our courthouse project was the county’s largest public project in history and was a critical source of jobs for trade and labor, creating 750 construction jobs during a time of high unemployment.
We renovated our airport terminal on a fast-track. Our deadline would not have been met had it not been for the dedication of the hardworking men and women in the trades from all the locals who worked on it — Operators, Laborers, Electrical, Carpenters, Plumbing, Heating-Ventilation-Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Carpet Layers.
Our Courthouse Annex project has a $40 million budget and is employing 200 union construction workers, and we’ve kept our projects alive during the pandemic, ensuring jobs.
When the COVID outbreak reached New Jersey in March 2020, my administration began directing the County government’s response. Over the next two years we tested thousands of residents and administered more than 10,000 vaccines, secured hard-to-find personal protective gear for first responders and health care professionals, set up our mobile unit in hard-to-reach communities and we kept the public in the loop with weekly updates. We made sure that every county resident who wanted the vaccine got the vaccine.
Under my leadership, more than 5,700 acres of open space and farmland have been preserved by Mercer County and its preservation partners. Twenty-seven percent of the county land area is now preserved in one form or another. In addition, our Park System, which hosts more than 2 million visitors each year, features some of the most unique programs in the state – horseback riding, tennis, a nature center, five golf courses, a marina and the recently acquired Hopewell Valley Golf, of which I am particularly proud.
And there is so much more to do to make Mercer County even better. Today, with your support and the support of the residents of this great county, I am so very proud to declare my candidacy for re-election to the Office of Mercer County Executive so that we can finish the job we’ve started!
I know you share my excitement over several important projects on the horizon, most importantly the $125-plus million terminal at Trenton-Mercer Airport. We are going after every federal grant dollar available through the once-in-a-lifetime Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
While the pandemic has put us and the FAA a bit behind, we are now in the design phase for the terminal. Ancillary projects include a new parking garage, air traffic control tower and airport firehouse. We are energized to get shovels in the ground and get to work!
Across this county, people I meet share their praise for the quality of life here in Mercer. Our roads are in great shape, we stay on top of bridge repairs, our snowplows are timely, we’ve got an award-winning park system that is second to none, our tax rate is steady, and our services are reliable. We genuinely are a great place to live, work and play.
Two other projects that fall in the “play” category that I’m excited to see through are Dam site 21 in Hamilton and Moore’s Station Quarry, off Route 29 in Titusville. These are multi-year projects to build, from the ground up, new recreational opportunities, from swimming, to zip-lines, mountain biking, playgrounds, and an overlook restaurant and conference room.
We are also working to attract new businesses to Mercer County. We recently reduced our Foreign Trade Zone fees, have an on-staff business advocate who can do everything from finding a suitable location to navigating the business loan process and more, and through our American Rescue Plan grant are increasing public transportation to and from the warehouse jobs on the east side of the county.
I am proud of our track record and I’m eager to build on it.
People have expressed to me their feelings and concerns about what the future holds for their families, communities, neighbors, and friends. My administration has worked skillfully on the issues that matter to the people of Mercer County — job creation, open space preservation, world class parks, opportunities for young adults seeking careers and education, economic growth and development, and our commitment to continue to make Mercer County one of the most affordable and desirable places to live, work and raise a family!
Looking around the room today, I’ve known many of you for a long time. That’s my way of saying I’m experienced. But when it comes to leadership, yes, I am experienced, but I believe that good leaders lead by example.
I believe that for the Democratic Party to continue to lead against the threat of the MAGA GOP, we must spend time with one another and consider the variety of perspectives that we represent. And that starts right here at home. We, as Mercer County Democrats, must continue to work together; to come together; and continue to do what is best for the residents of Mercer County.
When I first became County Executive, Mercer County all county-wide officials were Republicans. Now all the county-wide offices are Democrats. That is a testament to our leadership, hard work, and making Mercer one of the best places to live in New Jersey.
We have all soldiered through the most serious and personal crisis of our time – a global pandemic. I feel it has denied me two years to further build our local economy, build a much-needed terminal, support the growing number of electric vehicles with more charging stations, and kick-start park projects that have been on hold. We are now past the depths of COVID, and with unemployment down and the business environment good, I want to see these through to fruition.
There are so many great things on the horizon for Mercer County. I have the experience and know-how to lead Mercer County and I am excited, energized, and enthusiastic to finish what we’ve started. I respectfully ask for your mandate to continue as your county executive.