County Commissioners are the leaders of the county government. They are responsible for all the things that make our county run smoothly. County parks, waste management, Raritan Valley Community College and the Somerset County Vocational & Technical School, county roads and bridges, county health department and more are all influenced by the Board of County Commissioners. Somerset County has five county commissioners, and this year Melonie Marano is running for re-election.
Melonie has been a proud Somerset County resident since 1989. She currently resides in Green Brook, where she previously served on the Township Committee as well as Mayor. Professionally, Melonie is the Vice President of Business Development for a small NJ business. Melonie is also a Certified Tax Assessor, a helpful background when your job is also to vote on county budgets. She has also always made time for community service, including as the founder and former chair of Green Brook Volunteer Day.
As County Commissioner, Melonie Marano serves on the Open Space Advisory Committee where she works to expand the use of Open Space grants to protect Somerset’s green spaces while expanding the amount of preserved land and recreational areas in the county. She also started the Somerset County LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to ensure our county’s government treats every citizen with the respect and dignity they deserve. Among other responsibilities, Melonie Marano set up a Shared Services Marketplace which helps lower operating costs for all of Somerset’s twenty-one towns. All of this, and more, were accomplished by our Board of Democratic County Commissioners passing responsible budgets that maintained Somerset County’s AAA bond rating and kept taxes stable.
The job of the Clerk involves the maintenance of county records and certification of elections. The County Clerk maintains land and property records, provides notary services, accepts passport applications, records business name certificates, and processes military discharges. One of the most important jobs of the County Clerk is their role in elections. The County Clerk designs and prints the ballots, issues vote-by-mail ballots, and certifies the final election results. This year, Steve Peter is running for re-election as your County Clerk.
Steve Peter is a Harvard graduate who can speak five different languages. He previously served as a deputy clerk in his home state of Illinois before settling in Somerville where he served as Somerville Borough Council President. Being the County Clerk is a full-time job, and Steve Peter has earned himself recognition for the job he’s doing. Currently, Steve serves as the secretary for the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey, a position he was elected to by the other county clerks, sheriffs, and surrogates across the state. He has also earned some international recognition by being appointed the Education Chair of the International Association of Government Officials.
Steve Peter is working to make the Clerk’s office more accessible to everyone by digitizing forms and documents and starting to accept credit card payments. By establishing mobile clerk’s offices, Steve makes sure the clerk comes to you to provide necessary services. He was also responsible for smoothly handling unprecedented volumes of vote-by-mail requests during the 2020 election.
We’ve all seen the old western movies, but the modern Sheriff’s Office has a much friendlier face. The Sheriff’s duties include executing civil and criminal court warrants, operating the county jail, assisting local law enforcement, and keeping the county courthouse and county buildings safe and secure.
Before becoming the Sheriff, Darrin Russo was a lieutenant in the Franklin Township Police Department and has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. To combat gang activity, Darrin Russo organized some of the largest mobilizations of officers in the history of Somerset County. During his service, Darrin has received numerous citations and is a two-time recipient of the Somerset County 200 Club Award.
As Sheriff, Darrin Russo has expanded the K-9 Unit to allow for increased patrols of schools, train stations, and other public places. He has also been committed to making the Sheriff’s Office better reflect the communities it serves by increasing the diversity of hires and promotions. To make Somerset County a safer place for everyone, Sheriff Russo established a Hate Crimes Awareness and Prevention Unit, and he runs a series of community outreach programs including an Active Shooter Training course.