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A Talk with Brendan Maroney

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The first question is that the county is majority female. Apparently it’s 94.4 males for every 100 females. How do you plan on courting their votes? Because you don’t really need anybody else’s if you get theirs.

If I get every female vote? Well there’s a good two thirds of people in county that doesn’t even vote, so that includes probably about two thirds of the female vote. I’m not really going after identities. I’m kind of just focusing on the individual, I’m going to try to get everybody. I think my message could reach out to every demographic. So I’m not necessarily going to focus on women vs. men or men vs. women. More just people vs. people.

Apparently 53.2% of the county is registered as unaffiliated. So you don’t need to turn anybody.

Exactly, that’s a big point that we’re trying to hit. The last numbers I was looking at is that it’s like 270,000 people that aren’t registered to vote. And you see that a lot of people don’t feel strongly enough for either of the two major parties to get out to actually write down that affiliation. So a big point is to hit the people that don’t feel strongly enough to vote for one of the two parties and the people that don’t feel strongly enough to vote period. It’s a huge number, even in a midterm year. Last year we had a governor’s race and we had a record low turnout. The numbers have been going down and down, less and less people feel the push to even get out on a Tuesday and go do that. The big push is that we are trying to reach the unaffiliated because those are the people more likely to receive our message, that there is a third party in the state. Third largest right now, we just passed 10,000 registered voters. You don’t need the same old, same old. You don’t have to vote for red or blue, you can vote for something else.

What’s the color of the libertarians? Purple or yellow?

Yellow, on any media it’s gonna be yellow. Hopefully, we’ll turn a state yellow someday, but it is an uphill battle.

Besides yourself are you rooting for any of the other candidates? Because the board is gonna be 5 people.

For the seat I’m running for it’s gonna be four people total. It’s a Republican and a Democrat, and John Curley is running this year as an independent. No. No, I’m only gonna root for myself, I guess technically. I want everyone to have a fair battle, absolutely. I’ve talked to people in Hazlet that say Sue Kylie is a good mayor over there. I would like to talk to John Curley, I think, and see exactly what happened with the censor going on. He’s currently suing the Freeholders to pay for his legal fees for his past lawsuit, and then they have to pay them because they broke a federal judge’s order. I’d like to speak with him definitely, I’d like to speak with all of them. I have a candidate forum coming up with the League of Women Voters in October. Less so, one on one, but everybody gets a question and time to respond. Definitely looking forward to that… I think it’s an exciting year because typically there’s only one person running for a seat. This year there are four.

Do you have any changes you would make to your high school experience, given the chance? Because you went to Freehold Boro.

It was a great school, unfortunately it’s tied to where you live, so I’m actually extremely glad that my parents happened to move to this side of Freehold and I went there. I met a lot of good people, I really gained a career from that school. I was the president of drama club the last two years, so I started in theater, actually moved to community theater. I moved out, to eventually building props for Broadway shows, got into the exhibit world. I gained some of the skills I needed to eventually grow into a career at that school. And it’s because of the opportunities afforded to me by that school. Teachers were great, I was close with Ms. Linda Jewell, I was close with the Vice Principals as well. I honestly don’t think I would. It was a really good experience.

As a freeholder, you’re gonna be paid a salary of $27,000. As both a libertarian and a candidate would you want to alter this number at all? Because if you pay yourself less, your constituents get more. If you pay yourself the same amount, you don’t alter anything.

They tried to raise their salaries, which was really funny, because they also raised taxes. Maybe not the year to do that. Just me talking, by the way. Personally, yeah, I think that money should be back in the hands of private individuals. If that means taking it personally and giving it to charities, that would be something I would like to do. Right now I can only give so much to where I want to give, I’d like to give it to charities that really mean something to me.

Would you want to give it right back to the taxpayer?

If there’s an opportunity to not take the salary which I don’t think there is, sure, I’d like to give it right back. But I foresee that going back into the general fund. Personally, as a libertarian, I think that money was taken by coercion. Technically taxation is theft. You have to pay it. I wouldn’t necessarily be happy with taking it. I’d like to give it back to something I think would be good.

What would you donate it to?

I don’t think I could endorse any charities, but every year I shave my head for St. Paul’s Childhood Cancer Foundation so that would be my first choice. One of the brain cancer societies.

What’s your favorite political tv show?

I used to like the Daily show. I don’t like Trevor Noah. I don’t know, I don’t think he’s funny. He doesn’t have the delivery that Jon Stewart used to have. He fairly attacked both sides too, he was saying, “look how ridiculous this is”. I would also typically say that about Bill Maher. I would say everyone has their biases, I always found that Bill Maher called out everybody and was strong on free speech, which I like. I would say old Daily Show and new Bill Maher… I don’t like watching any of the talking heads on the 24 hour tv stations. I think it’s their opinion that they’re trying to sell as news.

I was looking at the profiles of other Freeholder candidates, after high school you went straight into business?

I started in engineering school at Rowan University for about two and a half years. That’s when I started working as a scenic carpenter, building props for Broadway shows. So at a certain point it made sense for me to leave college. I was learning more on the job, and getting paid to learn on the job. Going into it, II didn’t want to be an engineer. I knew what I wanted to do, as I was doing it. So it made sense for me to get out. When I was in high school I was good at math and science, and I said I should probably do this… Two years and a half years in, I said I know what I want to do and I don’t want to take on more debt.

How do you think that compares to your competition? One is an adjunct professor, two are lawyers, one is a labor rights activist, so how would you compare your background to theirs?

It’s different, I guess. I think I represent a lot of people who found that college wasn’t for them and it became extremely burdensome for them to pay for it. I think I could represent a lot of kids… that are looking for jobs that they shouldn’t necessarily have gone to college for… I took a different route than they ever did. I have an interest in law and economics, but I didn’t make a career out of it. I made a career out of essentially blue collar work. I think I have a better representation of your average individual in the county. I don’t think we have a county full of lawyers or adjunct professors. We have a county of working class people that are struggling to afford to stay here. I think I might have a better representation of the people that live here. I’m not saying they took a bad route… I think I am one step closer to people in Asbury Park, in Neptune, in Keanesburg, who are struggling to stay in their homes that have lived here their whole lives. They’re being pushed out by rising costs, by rising taxation, abuses by the county and the municipality. There’s civil asset forfeiture and substance abuse, the same war on drugs that hasn’t been working. I’ve seen that up close… I’ve seen what those things can do to people. I think I may have a better perspective on it than they do.

Which seat are you running for? There are five freeholders.

I think it’s John Curley’s seat (that he’s running for again) in Human Services, they have a couple departments that they oversee. I’ve been meeting with a couple of people, one gentleman I met with said he knows John Curley. I believe he oversees that… I know they rotate their director and deputy director. I’m not sure if that seat rotates, honestly… I would to like to be overtaking John Curley’s seat. That’s kind of the people I’ve been trying to focus on and talk with: people on that side of the issue, the opiate crisis and the mental health crisis. Scharfenberger is running for his seat that DiMazio left for general assembly, it’s an unfinished term, for one year whereas I’m running for a three year term that came up this year.

While I was doing research I realized how hard it is to learn anything about our municipal government.

Nobody knows anything about it, hahaha.

My best source was honestly Wikipedia.

Hahaha, try getting records. No, it’s actually a bad process. There are a lot of things that you don’t see and a lot of ‘who do I need to get to to find out this information’. I have plenty of questions myself, trying to figure out how everything works exactly, where all the money goes. So I’ve sent multiple requests out for public records. They say “I’m not the right office”, OK, but where’s the right office? And how to word it, how do I get the best stuff. Oftentimes I’ll get stuff back and it’ll the budget report, well I already have access to that. What I wanted was a detailed budget of this department. It’s all difficult to find out how everything operates. Trust me, I’m learning too, haha. I guess you could put that in there, hahaha.

Apparently the original contract for Brookdale says that the state will pay a third of the cost, the county–a third, and the students–a third. At this point, the students are paying 50%.

Speaking to that more broadly, it’s weird how they created a bunch of middlemen. New Jersey sends taxpayers money to the federal government in x dollars, they get x dollars minus some back. County residents pay taxes, the county pays the state and the state pays the county. It seems like they’ve created a lot of middlemen, it seems like it would be easier to have people pay for services as they want them. You’re taxing the entire state, and each county has its own community college. So you’re already taxing them for that money at the county level, I find it very strange that there seems to be moving money around. Each time you move it, you lose a little bit.

It came up with the 911 services that each county pays the state for 911 service, gets a grant and gets x amount back. Monmouth county is paying more than it’s receiving back, my point is: why is it paying anyway? Why isn’t it just keeping that money and paying for it itself? They county had its own service, some municipalities still have their own dispatchers, but most have moved to a state system… if there’s a hole in the budget then it’s covered by the general fund. I’m sorry to get off your point, but it’s the same thing with Brookdale… Why not just keep it in the county? Every time the money changes hands there’s a loss. A bureaucrat has to sign it and say this needs to go there. Why not keep it in the county? I think you’d save money if you just had the students and taxpayers paying for it. Now it’s just all falling back on the students. You’re already paying for it with your tax dollars; I think if they didn’t tax you every chance they get, you’d be able to afford it. We’re getting taxed at every level, it gets passed around, and then when it gets where it was supposed to be, it’s not as much as it was supposed to be.

You left Rowan because it was expensive and because you didn’t need it.

It was also a personal choice that I made. I didn’t need it for my career choice, it made more sense financially and to keep my life going.

For a student, would you rather give them a tax credit, a tax cut, or just give the school more money to decrease the amount that they’re paying?

I think that could be done by not passing the money around like we do… the government is extremely inefficient. You can just have the county pay for it, and take the money off the state tax that you’re paying. I think that would help. We’re in a big hole in this state, the county itself is a couple million dollars in debt. We keep overspending, eventually it’s gonna catch up. It’s already sort of caught up at the state level. We’re pretending like it’s not there. A lot of promises were made a couple decades ago, for a lot of benefits. I think those promises need to be upheld, but we need to stop introducing more.

The seat that you’re running for is the Human Services seat?

It is not necessarily just that seat. As far as I know it’s one of five on the board, I believe the board choose what you’re gonna oversee, it’s the past board, the elected board in January. There aren’t just five departments.

Wikipedia says there are five seats. The extent of my knowledge is based on an online encyclopedia.

Alright, I’ll check the county administrative code and get back to you. I had believed it was rotating, it’s something I can check and get back to you. Sooner than later, I promise.

What’s your first priority if you get the job? What’s the thing you want to do the most?

The issues I want to promote are financial reform and criminal justice reform. The thing that I think would be easiest to do first is push the county and municipal administrations away from using civil asset forfeiture the way it does. I think that’s a very simple resolution to write: if you are not charging an individual with a crime, you do not get to take their property. I think that’s the easiest thing to do as far as my understanding of the issue. Other than that, making it cheaper to live here. I need to see all the books, all the money, and where everything going. Why it’s getting more expensive to run a government, more inefficient. It should be more efficient, it should be cheaper to run a government, so much is done online now. Reducing the cost on the taxpayer should be simple, as long as you know where everything is.  450 million dollars, you have to find out where it’s going.

Uh, maybe I’ll re-prioritize: get everything online. Let people see where the money is, how it’s being spent. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve filed public request records for that could just be ‘go to the website, here’s the information on this department that’s being spent’ or ‘here’s the cash on hand’ on a quarterly or regular basis. You’ll start seeing what they’re spending money on, every month. I think that should be easier for everybody. You can just copy and paste a PDF file onto a website. I don’t think you should necessarily have to file a request for that. Before they posted online the candidates for Monmouth county freeholder, I filed a request with the clerk of elections, asked for a list of people running for this office. I had to file a public records request to get my name and to get John Curley’s name. I think we can simplify that. Just put it online immediately as soon as the petition goes through.

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A Talk with Brendan Maroney