Belmar Democrats - MoCo

Monmouth County Government

A question that is often heard is: "What do Freeholders do at the Monmouth County level of government?".

The full title of this level of government in NJ is The Board of Chosen Freeholders, "an elected commission of either three, five, seven, or nine seats determined by the size of the county's population—that oversee a range of executive and legislative functions." (Wikipedia)

"Freehold" and "Freeholder" are legal terms meaning the ownership of land or property, ownership of which must be of an indeterminate duration. The terms come from English Law. From the year 1429 onwards, it was decreed that a person of substance must have freehold land worth at least 40 shillings a year to qualify to vote for the election of the Knights of the Shire to the House of Commons.

According to NJ Spotlight "In pre-Revolutionary New Jersey, while the British ruled, appointed or elected freeholders, along with justices of the peace, appointed tax collectors and oversaw county business, including the “killing of wolves, maintaining the poor, and building and repairing the ponds and bridges.” New Jersey is the only state whose county commissioners are called freeholders...After the Revolution, local government was standardized by a 1798 law requiring each county to have a board of chosen freeholders consisting of two elected from each town." The term "Chosen" in front of "Freeholders" is meant to indicate that they are elected, not the just the landed gentry who run our county.

What Do They Do?

According to the official website of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, our elected county officials oversee "the upkeep of 380 miles of county roads, nearly 1,000 bridges, maintenance of more than 15,000 acres of county park lands, provide the largest circulating library system in the state..."

More to come...