Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly was sworn to a new three-year term on the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the 2020 Organizaton meeting. Freeholder Kelly served as Director of the Board in 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2016 and as Deputy Director in 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2019.
Freeholder Kelly has been a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders since 1993 and 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.
Freeholder 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 will fund 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, Freeholder 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.
Freeholder 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.
Freeholder 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, Freeholder 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, Freeholder 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.
Freeholder 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.
Freeholder 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 35 years ago when he was first elected to the Eagleswood Township Committee. Freeholder Kelly served as mayor of the southern Ocean County municipality for 11 out of the 17 years he was on the committee. 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 and Juliana Faith.