The New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) presented Cape May County Commissioner Director Gerald M. Thornton with the Board of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award during their annual conference on Thursday. Thornton recently announced he would not seek re-election and would retire from being Commissioner at the end of the year.
Thornton is the longest serving county official in the State and is the second longest continuously serving county official. Thornton is serving his second term on the Board of County Commissioners. He was first elected to Freeholder (which was later renamed County Commissioner) from 1976 to 1987, and after taking a break for 8 years he was re-elected in 1995 and has remained on the Board ever since. He has also been Commissioner Director since 2011.
“I was very surprised to get this award and did not expect it at all,” said Thornton. “All I can say is what I have been saying all year, it has been an honor to serve the residents of this great County over the past 46 years. I appreciate the support they have shown me in re-electing me over time after time. I also want to thank all the employees, including the ones who have retired, who have made Cape May County the great government that it is.”
Thornton has received numerous honors across the years, including being named Freeholder of the Year in 2015 by NJAC and being placed in the NJAC County Commissioner Hall of Fame. He also proudly served in the United States Air Force for 12 years and has since been a strong advocate for Veteran’s causes during his time in office. The award was decided on by the NJAC Board of Directors after it was suggested by Cape May County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes.
“I have worked over the years to make sure that future County Commissioners would be governing from a position of strength based on the decisions we have been making,” said Thornton. “I am confident Cape May County will continue to thrive in the years to come.”