Endorsement: Joshua Rocks for Freeholder in Camden County, NJ

Yes, there will be a few more partisan entries in coming weeks.

A friend of mine – Joshua Rocks – is running for freeholder in Camden County, NJ as a Republican. You’re already wondering why you should care. Well, as Josh himself put it recently while collecting signatures for the petition to run, it’s about offering a choice. At the most basic level, the system doesn’t work unless people actively participate in it. The Democratic party has run the Board of Freeholders for 18 years. No one’s saying there absolutely has to be a change. But it is tempting to think that the process doesn’t matter when things seem set already.

Josh has a great skill set. I owe him hugely for supporting me when I first started blogging, and I can attest that he’s teaching me a thing or two about how to work with people. I could probably demonstrate on some theoretical level that 99% of politics is working with people. Even when we talk about institutions, for example, we talk about accountability, transparency, fairness: these are not value-neutral terms. The point of government is to serve. Again, though, nothing may have to change.

I’d like things to change. I’m not speaking for Josh here, just myself. Josh has a responsibility to be as informed as possible and deal diplomatically with some very difficult issues. I’m just a voter. As a voter, when I see the county is reporting a $43 million dollar budget gap, I have to wonder whether the recession is the only issue facing the county. I can’t say stories like this about Camden County’s jail make me things are being run well:

The county jail was built to hold about 1,083 inmates. But according to this laid-off officer, there are still three and four inmates in cells designed to hold a single prisoner. Some sleep on the floor and, on some days, 70 inmates have to wait in line just to use a single bathroom.

And there are other issues regarding county services and the budget that can be brought forth. It could turn out, of course, that things are being taken care of as best they can be. Difficult economic times do demand a lot out of public servants. But I know Josh is about accountability, transparency, fairness and all those things that make government work well for us. And I can’t say there’s lots of positive news about how Camden County is being run now. Perhaps “change” is a good platform to run on when one is testing the very basics of the system.


  1. New Jersey’s system of naming county legislators “freeholders” is unique in the United States. The origin of the term was in the provisions of the New Jersey State Constitution of 1776, which stated[1]:
    “ That all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same, and have resided within the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for Representatives in Council and Assembly; and also for all other public officers, that shall be elected by the people of the county at large. (Emphasis added) ”

    Since property in “clear estate” is known as a freehold, the logical designation of such officeholders would be “Chosen (i.e. Elected) Freeholders”.

  2. I know Rocks and while I can’t get behind Republican agendas because Republicans are more of a burden than a benefit to the government, I still think he has some excellent platforms.

    I agree things need to be done to ensure senior citizen care, the penn mart land, and the prison falling apart.

    However I wonder how many of the inmates overcrowding the jail are there on small time possession charges of marijuana. Drop those charges and you’d have a facility that can operate at its normal capacity. I’d like to see people begin to tackle the overall national problem of tens of thousands of inmates in jail over simple possession.

    Fixing some elevators and adding a bathroom isn’t going to address the over crowding.

  3. I am an Independent, but I always vote GOP for Camden County freeholder because the unelected political boss who runs things for the Democrats (Norcross) needs to be challenged.

    The prisons are overcrowded on purpose. Norcross and –get this– Gov Christie WANT the prison to fail. They have invested heavily (real money) in privately run prisons and have intentionally savaged the prison maintenance contracts to accelerate the failure of the buildings.

    NOW, Norcross is gunning for a county-wide police force. This J Edgar Hoover wannabe wants his own militia to make it easier to twist arms for IOUs when someone’s teenage daughter drinks and drives.

    You heard it here.

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