With three year's experience on the Spring Lake Borough Council and a lifetime of public service, Gary Rich thinks the time is right to run for Monmouth County Freeholder this year. He hopes to share the Republican ballot with Colts Neck's Lillian Burry, who will be seeking her third term on the board. The popular Mrs. Burry, a former Colts Neck Mayor, has served as Director of the Freeholder Board twice during her tenure.
Its people like that whom Gary is currently trying to reach to discuss his possible candidacy. Although he unsuccessfully attempted to be the county GOP's choice to run with Mrs. Burry in the past, he feels his chances are better this time around.
"I have already begun the process of trying to get my name on the ballot," Gary said in mid-January. "I believe I can take the skills I've learned on the Spring Lake Council and apply them to the county. I have the experience to make the tough decisions when necessary. The position of Freeholder needs experience. You can't just walk in the door and do that job."
He's looking forward to the upcoming Republican "mini-convention" that will bring together over 100 county chairpersons, high-ranking elected officials and other GOP movers and shakers who will decide who gets to run with perennial high vote-getter Mrs. Burry. He plans to reach out to all those people prior to the meeting to discuss his experience and readiness for the job. If he is the selected candidate, he will immediately create a website and begin campaigning door-to-door.
"I know how to put together, run and win a tough, successful campaign by working with other Republicans," Gary said. "We as a party must work together to retain Republican principles in our county, including our AAA bond rating, parks and recreation and excellent services. I want to work with the Freeholder team to retain that record into the future."
Gary's experience serving the public began at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, where he ran for student office. A resident of Monmouth County for 36 years and Spring Lake for 20, he joined the Borough Council in 2008. In his time on the Council, he's worked on public infrastructure, water and sewer service, finance, recycling and has served on the Planning Board.
"I really enjoy public service," Gary said. "Elected officials can help improve their community. Giving back to the community, solving problems, working with the citizens can be very difficult, but can be extremely rewarding. I like being involved in the process. The citizens are what it's all about." While on the Council, Gary said some of his proudest accomplishments are containing taxes and spending while still providing excellent services to his municipality while striving, "to do more with less." Despite the 3-3 Republican/Democratic split on the Council, Gary says members work together and have harmony for the good of the borough.
A former educator who taught fourth grade at St. Rose School in Belmar as well as spent time teaching in Marlboro and Freehold Borough, Gary, 57, currently works for Dell as a sales executive in the New York/New Jersey area. His wife Ann is a Customer Service Manager at the Milagro Spa in Red Bank. They have three children - Gary Jr., 29, a specialist with the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State; Steven, 25, who is employed with Radio Shack and Devin, 24, a rehabilitation services graduate of East Stroudsburg University.