Ridgewood Village Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh on Monday became the first to formally declare candidacy in the 2014 Bergen County Freeholder race, announcing she will seek the Republican nomination in June for a seat on the board.
The first-term councilwoman, whose term ends July 1, 2014, told Patch her focus in the coming year will be the countywide election, and that she will not be making a bid for reelection to the council in May.
“I loved being a councilwoman. I’ve had a great time. Even though there’s been trials and tribulations, it’s been a great four years,” she said.
“I realized during the process there’s a lot of things tied to the county, and I want to be a voice for municipalities on the county level.”
If successful in earning the party nomination in June, Walsh would be one of two Republican candidates to face off against Democratic incumbents Freeholder Chairman David Ganz and Vice Chairwoman Joan Voss.
Democrats will have a 5-2 majority when the board of freeholders reorganizes in January, after ousting one of three Republican incumbents in the November election.
County Executive Kathleen Donovan, a Republican, will also be running for a second term in 2014
Walsh said she was not ready at this point to take a position on one of the most divisive issues currently before the freeholder board – the proposed merger of the county police department with the sheriff’s department – but said she would be conservative on “pay to play” legislation, another hot-button issue in November.
“I ran my last campaign on $500, so I’m not a big believer in getting large donations," she said. “I’m a grassroots kind of girl. I would be more conservative in my views on pay to play.”
Earlier this year, the board voted 6-1 to raise the limit on contributions from county contractors to county political committees from $2,500 to $5,200.
Walsh, a Bergen native and 17-year Ridgewood resident, has previously served on the planning board and the parks and field committees. She currently chairs the citizen safety and environmental advisory committees and is the village council’s liaison to the Bergen County League of Municipalities.
Her work on the league of municipalities, as well as in the private sector as a corporate relocation consultant working around the region, she said, makes the move to county politics a natural progression.
“I am proud of my accomplishments at the municipal level and have been especially focused on strengthening communications and relations with the county and its operations,” she said in a statement announcing her candidacy.
“My service has enabled me to continue based on reason – not rhetoric. I will bring this same ethic, understanding and perseverance to the county as a freeholder.”