Here are his views on GGCNJ’s top 10 priorities for County Commissioners and Executives:
The “County Line” in primary election ballots: Being placed in a preferential ballot position unfairly benefits some candidates and disadvantages others. Recognizing the outsize influence of the “county line” primary election ballots on the outcomes of elections, and the considerable voter confusion that they cause, I will therefore advocate for an “Office Bloc” ballot as is used in every other state and in some counties in NJ (see http://ggcnj.org/resolution for more information).
Comment: I continue to support improvements to the ballot such as ranked choice voting, as well as rules against phantom candidates and ballot designs that do not minimize non partisan races like school board and municipal races. I also support the open party structure of the Mercer Democratic Committee to allow candidates to seek endorsement without advantages in the rules for incumbents.
Contract Vetting: I will rigorously review all county contracts to make sure they reflect fiscal responsibility and the values of constituents.
Comment: We must strengthen our fiscal reviews of contracts, as well as, seek to diversify our procurement to ensure that women, minority and veteran owned businesses have a better chance to compete and win contracts at the county. This can be done by setting goals, increasing contract RFP visibility and holding vendor training sessions.
Pay to Play: I will not exchange professional service contracts for donations to my campaign or the campaigns of my friends/allies. When possible, I will open contracts up for a competitive bidding process, instead of automatically renewing last year’s contract.
Comment: Opening up contracts as described above, will help to also broaden the pool of eligible contract vendors.
Ethics Reform: I support ethics reforms that would require broader disclosure of financial information (e.g., investments) by candidates for county commissioner, as a means for regulating campaigns and limiting corruption.
Comment: I’m curious to learn more. Is this just stock holdings beyond 401k? Currently, laws require officials to abstain and not participate if there is a material interest in any vote or action. I am supportive of additional ethics reforms, including greater transparency in financial decisions and more accessibility for the budget.
Professionalism: I will commit my time and energy to full length meetings that make information accessible to the public. I will not support rushing through an abbreviated consent agenda.
Comment: I believe that increasing the distribution of meeting materials (social media) and posting meeting recordings are all ways to improve accessibility and transparency.
Meeting location and accessibility: I support using technology to make meeting attendance more accessible for residents, both publicly in person and via live-streaming of meetings (e.g., zoom) or other remote attendance options.
Comment: We learned a lot during the covid-19 pandemic and should continue to find ways for residents to both submit questions and testimony ahead of meetings, as well as live streaming meetings. Hybrid participation is also an option, although may be more difficult to incorporate and would be up to the Commissioners to decide, but I would encourage it.
Meeting Structure: I believe that county commissioners should hear from the public that they represent, and therefore I will not limit public comment beyond reasonable rules that make it possible for all who want to contribute, to do so (e.g., no more than 3 minutes per speaker). When possible, I will be responsive to public input.
Comment: While time limits are the decision of the Commissioner Board, I would support only imposing short time limits when the attendance requires, and to allow participants a second chance after everyone is heard from. Also, allowing participants to submit written testimony in addition to spoken is a way to enhance input.
Information reporting: I support easily accessible online meeting agendas and minutes. I support user-friendly budgets so residents can easily see how public funds are allocated. I support user friendly agendas that include explainers about resolutions being voted on.
Responsible County Administration & Oversight: I will work to ensure that the county entities and public services I oversee (such as libraries, parks, technical schools, community colleges, correction facilities, and infrastructure) are safe, professionally staffed, and appropriately funded.
Comment: After a forensic audit is complete, we can begin to rebuild the many areas our county has fallen down in investing in our human capital and the physical structures within the county. This may take a while, but will ultimately result in a stronger County government for all.
Appointments to Boards, Authorities and Commissions: I will appoint people with diverse perspectives to boards, authorities and committees, opening up government for greater participation, rather than selecting the well-connected. Because new ideas and voices are important, I will seek out new residents to fill these board positions and strive for diversity that represents constituents (e.g., in terms of gender and race), rather than having the same individuals serve for decades.
Comment: I believe we must work hard on outreach to achieve ethnic and racial diversity, and to seek a diversity of viewpoints, and lived experiences.
More information about Dan Benson:
Campaign website: http://www.BensonforMercer.com
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Party affiliation: Democratic party
Date of Birth: 11/22/1975
Current Occupation: Assemblyman 14th Legislative District, Telecom and Energy Consultant
Education: B.S. Physics and Government, Georgetown University and Masters in Public Policy in Science and Technology Policy, Rutgers University Bloustein School
Public/party service: Hamilton Councilman (2002-2005), Mercer County Commissioner (2008-2011), NJ Assemblyman (2011-present)
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