At the last meeting of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders before the November general election, independent candidate John Novak criticized the incumbent freeholders over the recent results of an OCP government transparency analysis. Our two companion studies analyzed the municipal and county governments of Ocean County to determine how much information they provide to citizens. The county study found many county boards lacking, while the municipal study gave high marks to Barnegat.
The mayor of Barnegat spoke during the public comment portion of the freeholder meeting shortly before its conclusion, and began by offering his best wishes to Freeholder John Bartlett, who has been battling health issues in recent months.
Mr. Novak, for his part, was critical of the county’s current state of affairs, referencing the OCP study that found many county boards & commissions do not provide the public with basic information via their websites.
Novak: Freeholders Can Win Back The Public Trust With Greater Transparency
“I believe that you can’t have an expectation of the public’s trust if you don’t trust them first,” Novak declared. “If you don’t trust them with access to your business and what you’re doing, how can you expect them to trust you back?”
Novak, who is hoping to oust either incumbents Kelly or Haines in the general election, said he was “disappointed” to see the areas that the county has been identified as lacking in with regard to transparency. He said that public officials had a “tough road” due to the constant suspicion of wrongdoing from the public. In light of constant public scrutiny faced by public officials, the independent freeholder candidate said that additional transparency was the best way to calm the concerns of the public.”I want people to see that we’re not up to no good,” he told to freeholders.
He offered to share any guidance he could provide to the board to help improve transparency, but the members of the county’s governing body did not appear to show any enthusiasm for Novak’s proposals.
None of the freeholders had any response to the concerns raised by Novak during the public comment session, not unlike Mayor Novak’s previous interactions with the county’s incumbent elected officials.
Incumbent freeholders Jack Kelly & Ginny Haines are being challenged by Novak, along with Democrats Ed Wolff & Michael Cooke on the November ballot.