Mike Vrabel, Democratic challenger running for county commissioner

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

| 28 Oct 2021 | 03:15

I’ve lived in Sussex County since 1996 with my wife and two children, who are both grown now and on their own, both graduates of Sparta High School.

I have served my country in the Air Force as a C-130 pilot for 13 years in the active duty and reserves.

I am a retired Airline Pilot, flying for UPS for 27 years.

I currently serve on the board of Family Promise of Sussex County. Family Promise serves families in danger of losing their housing or are currently homeless. Before Covid, Family Promise used local churches to house these families. Now, we rely on federal and state grant monies to keep these families in place and provide the assistance they need.

One of my priorities as commissioner would be to implement the Homeless Trust Fund Act. This New Jersey law allows counties to extract a $3 fee from all county clerk documents, such as mortgages or deeds, to go to a trust fund managed by the county and 501c groups that go to rent vouchers, shelters, and other services to keep families in crisis in their homes. With eviction moratoriums ending, this is an important tool to keep people off the streets. I’ve gathered a coalition of community leaders, including the Newton Town Council, to endorse this effort.

Another issue that the commissioners can address is property taxes. I have talked with State Senator Steve Sweeney on his efforts in Gloucester County when he was a commissioner there. They successfully merged most municipal EMS services into a countywide service, saving $3.6 million in property taxes the first year, and millions more as more towns joined in. Shared services work, as evidenced by a $5,600 average tax bill in Gloucester County compared to the $7,700 average in Sussex County. I will work to push for increased shared services here in order to attract businesses and new residents.

The Covid pandemic has affected all of us.

It’s important for our county leaders to be proactive and lead by example on this. Sussex County lags New Jersey’s vaccination rate. School board meetings have become battlegrounds where mask mandates are challenged while the danger still looms. Science, reason, and shared community responsibility is what we need for our schools, our economy, our lives to return to normal. Unity against a common enemy is what made this country great, not division. As commissioner, I would be a tireless advocate for that unity.