Effective January 1, 2021, the term Board of Chosen Freeholders will no longer be used due to legislation signed earlier in 2020 by the Governor (S855) formally changing the title of Freeholder to Commissioner. The new title will be Ocean County Board of Commissioners and, Freeholder, effective January 1, 2021, will be referred to as Commissioner.
Commissioner John P. Kelly
Chairman: Law & Public Safety and Finance
Term Expires: 12/31/2022
Commissioner John P. Kelly has been an elected Ocean County official since 1993 when first elected a member of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, now known as the Ocean County Board of Commissioners. He serves as Director of Law and Public Safety. During his tenure he has brought to fruition such important projects as the construction of the Fire and First Aid Training Center, the expansion of the Ocean County Jail, improvements to the Ocean County Police Academy and upgrades to emergency communications.
Commissioner Kelly serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Finance. He works in concert with the Board members in developing a County budget that funds all the core services and programs for County residents while keeping Ocean County affordable and maintaining its AAA bond rating.
In his capacity as Director of Law and Public Safety, Commissioner Kelly oversaw the expansion of the Ocean County Police Academy located in Ocean County Park, Lakewood. He was instrumental in the construction of the Training Center in Waretown, which officially opened its doors to the fire and first aid academies in October 1998. Since that time thousands of volunteers have received training there. The mission there has been expanded to house the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Law and Public Safety program.
Commissioner Kelly oversaw the opening of an expanded communications center for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the countywide 911 system. He also has worked to upgrade radio communications for the numerous law enforcement agencies throughout Ocean County.
Commissioner Kelly has closely worked with the Ocean County Security Department, the County Corrections Department and the county Juvenile Services Department in implementing programs for Ocean County youngsters including bicycle safety programs, Internet safety programs and anti-gang programs.
In 2001, Commissioner Kelly championed making Ocean County government even more accessible to its residents with the opening of the County Connection, a county government service outlet conveniently located at the Ocean County Mall, Toms River. He continues to serve as liaison to that program. Since its opening, over 1 million people have walked through its doors seeking information and assistance from a well-trained staff. In 2004, the County Connection took to the road with the launching of the mobile County Connection which provides services throughout the County.
As chair of the Office of Engineering, Commissioner Kelly works closely with the engineering staff in annually overseeing more than $45 million worth of infrastructure improvements focusing on roadway safety. He also serves as a member of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
Commissioner Kelly in concert with the Board led the successful effort to protect Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station from being dismantled by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 1995 and again in 2005. He continues to support the work of what is now known as Joint Base – McGuire, Dix, Lakehurst working closely with Congressional leaders to keep the tri-service base viable and strong in order to protect homeland security and promote economic growth.
Commissioner Kelly served as Director of the Board in 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2016 and as Deputy Director in 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2019.
Commissioner Kelly has served as a member of the New Jersey Association of Counties since 1993. And, during that time he has served as Secretary-Treasurer, Second Vice President, First Vice President and as President in 2004.
He began his work in public service more than 40 years ago when he was first elected to the Eagleswood Township Committee. Commissioner Kelly served as mayor of the Southern Ocean County municipality for 11 out of the 17 years he was on the committee. And, he formerly served as a member of the Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Company and had been a Webelo leader in Cub Scouts.
He has served as past president and treasurer of the Ocean County Mayors’ Association. He has received many awards and commendations as a Freeholder including being named Public Official of the Year by the Chiefs of Police of New Jersey and in 2006 by the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association. And, he was honored by the Jersey Shore Council of Boy Scouts of America as the 2007 Citizen of the Year.
He is married to the former Evelyn Bodie and is the father of five children, John, Dawn Marie, Crystal Lynn, Billy and Jimmy, and grandfather to Cecelia Grace, Juliana Faith, Sullivan Perry and Evelyn Elizabeth.