TOMS RIVER, NJ – Phil Murphy might have changed the name for political correctness, but whether you call Joe Vicari a freeholder or county commissioner, one fact remains the same, he’s the highest vote-getter in Ocean County history for the position.
With his family at his side, Vicari who is serving his 40th year on what is now the Ocean County Board of Commissioners was administered the oath of office by his daughter Dina M. Vicari, Esquire. Vicari said he opted to be sworn in outside of the public meeting to limit public exposure to COVID-19 as the county seat of Toms River has become the COVID-19 epicenter of Ocean County since Thanksgiving.
There were no large crowds, no fanfare, to witness the event, as in the past due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Rather than having the swearing-in during the Board of Commissioners’ organization meeting on Jan. 6 as is tradition, I felt it best to take the oath surrounded by just my family this year,” said Vicari. “It’s so important to be mindful about reducing contact with large numbers of people at this time in order to protect everyone from COVID-19.”
Vicari won the election with 212,553 votes, far surpassing the vote tallies of his peers to his left and right on the board in recent years. Some in Republican circles, with animosity claim Vicari simply rode Trump’s coattails back into the office and reject the notion that Vicari’s win is anything but historic.
Ocean County will hold its annual organizational meeting for the Board of Commissioners at 3:30 p.m., Jan. 6 in the Ocean County Administration Building, 119 Hooper Avenue. At that meeting Freeholders, or Commissioners will continue business as usual, doling out professional appointments to politically connected pay-to-play firms and elected officials throughout the county. With a sharp division on the board in recent weeks, leading to the retirement of fellow Freeholder Gerry Little, anything can happen as the Haines/Holman faction battle the Gilmore-backed faction at the county level.
Haines, who was seated by Gilmore to fill a vacancy is now beholden to clan Holman. GOP Chairman Holman is currently on a hunting trip out west, insiders told Shore News Network, and may not be on hand to watch his freeholders take their seats on Wednesday, a time-honored tradition by the former chairman.