Corzine to open county office

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:50

    NEWTON-The only way to build is from the ground up and what better place to start a foundation than the county seat, said Sussex County's top democrat, Howard Burrell. The chairman of the Sussex County Democratic Committee said he would soon open an office in Newton with a full-time staff member to coordinate the Northwest section of the state campaign of Sen. John Corzine's (D-N.J.) for New Jersey governor. Burrell has been working to increase the visibility of his often-overlooked party in Sussex County, where only 11 percent of the voters are registered Democrats. "We're a good party n not a perfect party n but we must appeal to people wherever they might be," said Burrell, who was recently re-elected to serve as chairman of the county's Democratic Committee. "We're going to run an aggressive, high-profile, positive campaign." Earlier in June, Burrell met with Corzine at the state Democratic convention in Atlantic City. He said the Newton headquarters is an indication of the commitment Sen. Corzine has to the county. "Sen. Corzine shares my view that counties like Sussex are going to be the future of the Democratic Party," said Burrell, a former member of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. "If we offer the people of Sussex County a candidate that shares our values, they'll support us. If we don't, they won't support us." Burrell was instrumental in welcoming Corzine to Sussex County in the spring, when he attended a reception for county Democrats at Perona Farms in heavily Republican-saturated Sparta. "John Corzine has high-name recognition and small-town values," said Burrell. "He'll do better than any gubernatorial candidate in Sussex County in decades." Burrell said would strongly consider a position in a Corzine administration, if the senator is elected governor and if he is approached. "If Sen. Corzine wants to be able to appeal to Sussex, Warren, and Morris counties, it wouldn't be bad to have Howard Burrell be part of his organization," said Burrell, who has served terms on the Vernon town council and school board. "Politics is something people tolerate, but it's a necessary part of a democracy. Most people don't want to get involved." In the six months that he has served as chairman, Burrell said attendance at Democratic Party meetings, held twice each month at the Hampton Diner in Newton, has increased from an average of 15 to about 100 guests. Burrell also noted, in that time Democrats have increased their number of committee seats in the county from 88 to 110. The county's top Democrat said that 60 percent of Sussex County voters are considered independents. He hopes to attract a piece of that electorate to the Democratic Party by developing and implementing creative and dynamic outreach programs. "I hope to continue what I started," said Burrell. "Democrats haven't tried hard enough. We have to stop complaining and do something about it."