Gopal Co-sponsors Bill Requiring Board of Chosen Freeholders to Change Title

Senator Vin Gopal has co-sponsored a bill that requires the board of chosen freeholders to alter its title.

Recently, New Jersey Legislators have been pushing to change the title of the board of chosen freeholders, due to the negative connotations and discriminatory roots of the term “freeholder.”

The bill (S402) requires the board of chosen freeholders to adopt a resolution to replace the terms “freeholder” and “chosen freeholder” with “commissioner” and “county commissioner” and the term “board of chosen freeholders” with “board of county commissioners” in all new resolutions, all letterhead and other supplies used by the board for its correspondence and any other transactions.

“The term ‘freeholder’ has its roots in pre-Colonial England and was used to describe free, white, land owning men. This archaic phrase, blemished with negative connotations, has no place in a modern, diverse society,” said Senator Vin Gopal.

“We have a responsibility to recognize outdated components of our government and take steps to modernize where appropriate. I believe in this instance, it is more than appropriate. By transitioning from the phrase ‘freeholder’ to ‘commissioner’ we are bringing our county government, with a budget of nearly $450 million and over 600,000 constituents, into the 21st century.

“Here in Monmouth County, the term ‘freeholder’ often causes confusion, leading some to believe the title is associated with Freehold Borough or Freehold Township. The title, which is only utilized in our state, also tends to confuse public officials outside of New Jersey who use the term ‘commissioner.’ This long overdue change will provide some much needed clarity to both the residents of New Jersey and the out-of-state public officials we work with on a regular basis.”

The bill does not require these bodies to retroactively change these terms in previously adopted resolutions.

The bill was introduced by Senator Joseph Pennacchio.