DRBA Appointment Puzzles Pols : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land
DRBA Appointment Puzzles Pols
TRENTON — There are furrowed brows among Cape May County politicos trying to figure why one of two seats on the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) may go to a Camden County Republican instead of a Cape May County GOP member.
On Sept. 13, Gov. Chris Christie appointed Richard S. Mroz of Haddonfield to the 12-member bi-state authority that operates, among other ventures, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. The appointment must pass the state Senate, and First District Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat is not satisfied with that appointment.
“This is a biggie with the DRBA,” said Van Drew. “We all should be very concerned about it.”
Van Drew told the Herald he already expressed displeasure over the appointment to the governor and Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Cape May County has long had two commissioners, one from each party, on the authority, said Van Drew. Those who serve on the authority are from counties that have DRBA facilities located within their borders, he said. Those counties include Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester and Cape May.
There has never been a commissioner from Camden County, which has no DRBA property within it, Van Drew said.
“I was very surprised and shocked. Technically it’s probably legal, but I will certainly explore it,” said the senator.
“I do not support it (Mroz’ appointment),” Van Drew said.
Cape May Deputy Mayor Neils Favre, whose term expired July 1, held the seat.
“This is a Republican seat, and there are many qualified Republicans in Cape May County for this position that I would be glad to support. We need Cape May County people on the authority,” he said, adding this county is “under-represented.”
“We need a Cape May County Republican to fill that seat,” he added.
“I am disappointed with the governor appointment. It is hurtful to Cape May County. We need all the representation we can get, especially with all the challenges the ferry and airport has, and even with Lower Township water allocation. I am very concerned,” the senator said.
“There is a lot of disappointment,” he said.
The prospective appointee is widely known in the state and nation, according to a profile on Salmon Ventures, Ltd., a consulting firm, which is headed by Dr. Edward Salmon, a former First District legislator.
“In addition to maintaining his legal practice, he provides consulting services on various non-legal engagements for business development, government relations and regulatory affairs for real estate, gaming, utility and technology clients,” the Salmon website states.
Mroz was Sen. John McCain’s state campaign director, as well as having served as chief counsel to Gov. Christine T. Whitman.
The website further states, “He was the primary advisor for legislative affairs, negotiated the state budget, recommended judicial appointments, and provided liaison to and oversight of the largest state agencies such as the Economic Development Authority, Turnpike Authority, Wastewater Treatment Trust, Water Supply Authority, Casino Control Commission, Sports and Exposition Authority and the various port authorities including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Delaware River Port Authority. Mr. Mroz oversaw and negotiated agreements for to the introduction of E-Z Pass in the region, proposals for Off-Track Pari-mutuel Wagering, and negotiated the public-private Road Development Agreements with Mirage Resorts (now MGM) for the Atlantic City-Brigantine Roadway Connector.”
It continues, “Prior to serving in the Whitman Administration he was the County Counsel for Camden County, New Jersey. Mr. Mroz has served as counsel to the Delaware River & Bay Authority, which operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Currently, he is counsel to the Atlantic City Hotel & Lodging Association and is legislative agent to the New Jersey Conference of Mayors.”
Mroz is a member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Alliance for Action, a business and trade organization in New Jersey, as well as a member of the board of the Volunteers of America of the Delaware Valley.
Active in political affairs, Mroz served as the volunteer statewide coordinator for the McCain 2008 New Jersey Campaign.
Previously, he served as counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2004 New Jersey Campaign Committee and as Special Counsel to the New Jersey Republican State Committee.
In 2000 he was the New Jersey representative to Philadelphia 2000 (Philadelphia’s Host Committee) for the National Republican Convention when he coordinated all of New Jersey’s efforts to support the 2000 Convention including numerous special events.
Active with his college alma mater, Mroz served for many years on the board of the University of Delaware Alumni Association and served as the President of that organization.
New Jersey DRBA commissioners are: Ceil Smith, Salem, Douglas L. Van Sant, Bridgeton, Neils Favre, Cape May Susan DeLanzo, Court House, James N. Hogan, (chair), Franklinville, and Rev. Edward Dorn, Pedricktown.