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Palmer Chosen as County Freeholder Director

The county held its annual reorganization meeting Friday.

Bernardsville resident Peter Palmer was sworn in as the new Somerset County Freeholder Director at the county's annual reorganization meeting in Somerville Friday.

Patrick Scaglione, of Bridgewater, was chosen as deputy director, after being sworn in for his second three-year term on the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Also being sworn in was Mark Caliguire, of Montgomery, who was elected in November to his first three-year term after filling an unexpired term vacated by Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.

Somerset County Clerk Brett Radi, of Somerville, was also sworn in to his third five-year term for the county.

According to a release from the county, Palmer said at the meeting that open space, infrastructure, human and social services and shared services will be the focus throughout 2013.

"2013 will be a challenging year," he said in his remarks at the reorganization meeting, the release said. "We will, as always, emphasize open space preservation, infrastructure investment, serving our needy citizens and expanding shared services in conjunction with our municipalities. With the highly competent and dedicated management and staff here at the county and our affiliated agencies, I am confident we will succeed in these efforts in a cost-effective way."

Palmer, the release said, put a focus on the state's retooled economic development focus, which, as studied by Rutgers University economists, is moving from office-based suburban growth corridors. He said that is very relevant to Somerset County.

"Somerset County rode the crest of that development wave of the recent past," he said, according to the release. "The tide has turned and is now receding, and it is our challenge to see that Somerset County is not sucked under by the rip current. Our challenge is to do what is necessary to keep the future here as bright as possible. The new normal of business and commerce requires us to lead."

Palmer said, according to the release, that the county has completed a comprehensive economic development strategy through the Somerset County Business Partnership, which will help in getting monetary support from state and federal sources.

In addition, Palmer said, the county is working with the individual municipalities to provide support for corporations represented throughout the county, and the thriving downtown areas.

Aside from the economy, Palmer said, the budget will continue to be an issue for residents.

"Underlying all our plans is the necessity of having a sound and sustainable financial framework," he said, according to the release. "We must look not only at the finances of the current year, but also how today's decisions will affect future years. Then we can continue to provide the services and quality of life our citizens expect within the constraints of the budget cap law, while maintaining our triple-A credit rating."

Palmer did say that 2012 was a successful year, and noted that 2013 will mark the county's 325th anniversary.

Palmer is a longtime resident of Bernardsville, and was former mayor in the borough.

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