A freeholder is an elected, part-time legislator at the county level of government. The seven members of the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders are elected at-large to three-year staggered terms. State statutes determine the number of freeholders based on county classification and population. The Board has a Chair and Vice-Chair; these positions are rotated among board members each year.
The title “freeholder” is derived from an Old English term used to refer to a person who owned an estate of land, free of debt. The title was adopted in New Jersey during the Colonial period when only those who owned real estate free of debt were eligible to participate in elections or hold public office. New Jersey is the only state that retains the title of “freeholder” to denote the elected members of the county governing body.