Sparta mayor plans bid for county freeholder

Sparta mayor plans to run with Franklin Council president


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  • FILE PHOTO Sparta Mayor Josh Hertzberg plans to seek a seat on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.



Sparta Township Mayor Josh Hertzberg says he is tossing his hat in the ring for a spot on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

He announced his intentions Friday, saying that he, and Dawn Fantasia, president of Franklin Borough Council, will be running a joint campaign for two seats on the board.

In early January, Sparta was sworn in as mayor for a one-year term. Running for freeholder will not interfer with Hertzberg’s mayoral role and if successful, his freeholder seat will begin in January 2019.

Hertzberg and Fantasia plan to officially file documents to begin their bids on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Petitions will be circulated among friends, family, neighbors, and party activists to secure the Republican nomination for those seats. If successful, the two candidates will be on the ballot for a June 2018 primary followed by a general election in November of 2018.

Fantasia and Hertzberg will host a fundraising event on Thursday, April 5, at the Mohawk House where they will make a formal announcement. Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, Assemblyman Hal Wirths and Sheriff Mike Strada will be hosting the event.

In a statement, Hertzberg said that although he was starting his bid for county freeholder he still had "a lot of great plans for Sparta this year."

The projects, he said, "will really have an impact on our community without a negative impact on our taxpayers pockets. Non of which would be possible without the sound conservative financial planning that our team in Sparta set. It’s that kind of mindset that I plan to bring to the county."

"You have to set a sound financial plan, and have the fortitude to stay with it. You must also remember that it is still your job to provide the taxpayers with a certain level of service. Lowering the tax rate, and providing top notch service sounds like a tall order, but its what the people of Sparta deserved, and it’s what all of Sussex County deserves."

Fantasia is from Ogdensburg and graduated Wallkill Valley Regional High School. She is raising two daughters and a son in Franklin, and her eldest daughter is now in college.

She holds a BA in theatre with a minor in communications and an MS in educational leadership. She's taught English, speech, and theatre, served on the executive team of a North Jersey public charter school network, and is currently the middle school principal of Bergen Arts and Science Charter School in Garfield. She has been active in educational advocacy efforts and provided testimony before the state legislature for fair school funding.

Fantasia served on the planning board, zoning board, and economic development committee. She ran for council on a platform that included support for police officers and first responders, on a promise of transparency and accountability, and of economic growth and stability. Working as a team, the mayor and council, she said, has consolidated its zoning and planning boards to become more business friendly; cut its municipal property tax rate; attained a positive Aa3 credit rating; and brought discretionary spending under control. Fantasia said she helped put the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) before the voters and helped pass an "important means of supporting our dedicated first responders."

Hertzberg grew up in Sparta, where he lives today, with his wife and three young children. His retired mother still lives in Sparta too.

Hertzberg started his professional career working for the Department of Justice. While with DOJ, and then Homeland Security, he worked in Border Patrol, DEA, and then in Homeland Security in various positions and locations across the country. With this background,he went to work at Port Newark for Maher Terminals and is currently the Director of Business Operations for the International Longshoreman's Association (ILA).

As a Sparta Township Councilman, Hertzberg said in his candidate's announcement that he has been part of a team that has built a fiscal surplus and lowered the tax rate in two consecutive years -- all while continuing to add impactful capital improvements. "This kind of fiscal responsibility has helped Sparta achieve a double A2 credit rating allowing further saving to the taxpayers," the announcement said.

According to Hertzberg, Sparta has just completed its first turf sports field "with no tax impact to the residents."

The township, he said, is partnering with the local VFW to create a local military outreach committee and has "started a community business forum to help improve and grow the Sparta business community."

Hertzberg, who has a background in national security, said he worked with Sparta's police chief to increase training hours for officers.

The township is bringing in a nationally recognized security firm to conduct a threat assessment and give township employees, school employees, and teachers security training for worst- case scenarios, he said.

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