By Maddy Vitale
Robert Nolan became the 100th sheriff in Cape May County history when he was sworn in Tuesday night during the annual reorganization meeting of the freeholders at the William E. Sturm Jr. Administration Building.
Incumbent Republican Freeholders Will Morey and Jeffrey Pierson were also administered the oath of office. Superior Court Judge Michael J. Donohue gave the oaths of office to Morey and Nolan. Cape May County Clerk Rita Marie Fulginiti gave the oath to Pierson.
Freeholder terms are for three years. Morey won his third term in the November election. Pierson captured his first full term in the election. Pierson, a retired Army Brigadier General, was first appointed to the board in 2016 to fill the unexpired term of former Freeholder Kristine Gabor after she resigned to accept a new job.
The presentation Tuesday included the Sheriff’s Honor Guard. Deacon Erik Simonson, also the Lower Township mayor, gave the invocation and benediction.
When Bella McKeown, a fifth-grader at Maud Abrams School in Lower Township, sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” the audience erupted in applause.
The freeholders asked that she pose with them for a picture at the end of the ceremony. Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton praised Bella for her singing talent.
After Morey and Pierson were sworn in, they said a few words.
“There is great potential in Cape May County, and I am happy for the opportunity to continue to serve,” Morey said. “It is a privilege to be involved.”
He thanked his wife Janice for all of her support and said he could not have done it without her.
Pierson thanked his family and the board for the opportunity and said he wants to continue collaborating with the board on the good work they are doing.
He added, “It was fun out there on the campaign trail.”
Thornton thanked the freeholders for all that they did over the last year.
“I want to thank my freeholders who worked really hard. We have really tried to tackle the problems we face here. It has been difficult,” Thornton said. “I want to thank all of the employees and department heads and so many people working in the courts and jail. We are really making headway here, which makes this county a great place to live.”
Thornton said Cape May County is working on the problem of homelessness and trying to combat the opioid crisis, with the help of the county Prosecutor’s Office.
He also recognized Nolan for being the 100th sheriff in the county and praised former Sheriff Gary Schaffer, who retired, for serving.
Nolan, a Republican, served as undersheriff and has worked in the Sheriff’s Department for 34 years.
“I truly love my job. The men and women I work with in the county jail are top notch, dedicated people. It makes it easy to lead with people like that,” Nolan remarked after the ceremony.
Freeholder Vice Director Leonard Desiderio, who is also the Sea Isle City Mayor, congratulated the newly sworn in members and said he looks forward to working with them once again, and continuing to move Cape May County in a positive direction.
Freeholder E. Marie Hayes told Morey and Pierson that she looks forward to another year on the board with them and noted the entire board works so well together.
“It’s so great to have you on the board. It’s a lot of fun,” Hayes said, adding that the freeholders couldn’t do their job without all of the strong support and tireless work of the county employees.
Dean Marcolongo was sworn in Nov. 13 to fill the unexpired seat of Susan Sheppard for Cape May County surrogate and was in the audience. Sheppard resigned as surrogate to take an appointment as a superior court judge.