County sheriff faces challenger in primary

Sheriff Ralph Froehlich
Sheriff Ralph Froehlich

UNION COUNTY — Sheriff Ralph Froehlich may have served 12 terms but if his challenger in the primary has anything to say, it will be his last.

Although Froehlich has easily returned to his elected seat every election since 1977 when he was first elected, Union County Police Lt. Richard Puschel thinks it’s time for a change.

Puschel, who is challenging Froehlich in the June primary, suggested this week that the sheriff and former police officer, who is over 80-years-old, needed to fire Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Cryan from his $111,000 taxpayer funded position as undersheriff.

“More than three weeks have gone by since the New York Post reported that Cryan’s racy correspondence with lobbyist Karen Golding was written while he was at one of his government jobs,” said Puschel, adding that “inaction of this kind suggests a failure of leadership and a crisis of integrity that must be corrected.”

Puschel also said he would never allow a subordinate to engage in such unbecoming conduct as displayed by Cryan, admitting he was “frankly stunned” that Froehlich failed to address the matter at all.

“It is simply not acceptable to have a high ranking law enforcement official using government computers while being paid at taxpayer expense to engage in 14-hour sex chats with a girlfriend,” Puschel said, adding that Froehlich had a responsibility to taxpayers, not to his political alliances.

Froehlich, who was unable to be reached because he was out of the office, earns $145,000 a year as sheriff, but also is considered a “double dipper” because he receives a public pension of $85,000 annually from his position as a police officer.

Cryan, also a double dipper, is paid $111,000 as undersheriff and $49,000 for his legislative post as assemblyman.
Legislation was enacted several years ago preventing state lawmakers from drawing more than one public-sector salary, but many are grandfathered-in as of Feb. 1 2008.

Froehlich, a Union resident, is the longest serving county sheriff in New Jersey History. A career law enforcement officer and former Marine, the sheriff implemented many programs during his tenure, including instituting a program that made it easier for local police departments to move prisoners to the county jail.

Although Puschel does not discount what Froehlich accomplished during his 36-year tenure, he has a problem with the way he overlooked what Cryan has done.

“Joe Cryan disgraced the Union County Sheriff’s office by behaving like a sex-crazed teenager. He betrayed Ralph Froehlich’s trust by abusing government equipment and he robbed the taxpayers by doing it all at public expense,” said Puschel.
He also felt Froehlich’s first responsibility was to taxpayers, not Cryan.

“Froehlich has held the office for 36 years so it is time for a change, but he has to make this decision immediately,”
Puschel added.