Following the path Marc set, I am here for the members

My service as your executive vice president must start with expressing appreciation and praise for Marc Kovar and all he has done for our association. His 20-plus years of commitment to the New Jersey State PBA, and specifically the past eight as our executive vice president teaming up with President Pat Colligan, has brought our association to unprecedented heights.

They’ve set the bar high. They’ve had a lot of successes. These guys were fantastic, and there weren’t too many setbacks along their path. Working alongside Pat and Marc the past several
years in the state office has enabled me to get an up-close look at how much dedication Marc brought to the job every day. His attention to the wellbeing of every member has our association

My commitment is to continue the path that they have blazed. I believe the next frontier is to drive member engagement. I want to work on what we need to make sure members are well informed about the work we do.

One opportunity we have is getting more of our members to use the NJSPBA app we have created as a source of valuable information. We want to get members’ information at their fingertips so they can look at it on their phones. I feel like we can drive member engagement right through the app.

Since Marc retired on Oct. 1, it’s been a whirlwind. But that’s how the PBA rolls.

I’m really just getting used to the seat. Pat and I are looking forward to sitting down and hammering out how we will work with this opportunity to perpetuate the leadership standard of
this association.

Pat and Marc were the dynamic duo. Those guys could do all kinds of things, and they complemented one another. During the past few years, I’ve been mentored by each of them, and I’m ready to take the best of their attributes.

What I have learned about the PBA since becoming a State Delegate is that we have an unparalleled team in place. We have our executive board. We have the staff at the PBA office. We are set for this transition.

There will be a learning curve. There always is. When I first came to work at the PBA office as the Pension Benefits Coordinator, I had to figure out how to get it done. You’re always thinking, “Should I do this? Should I do that?”

But you learn quickly that we don’t do this alone. So I intend to take the lessons that I’ve learned under Pat’s and Marc’s mentorship to keep moving forward and not look back.

Now, I hear some people say, “What makes him qualified? All he does is pensions and conventions.” Well, yes, those are major things. But the day-to-day stuff that they have tasked me with gets done. A lot of the stuff behind the scenes that people just don’t think about that has to get done, it gets done by me, Mike Freeman, Kevin Lyons – you know, the all the people in the office.

We’re not one-dimensional. We have to be multidimensional in the office because there’s so much going on around the state. To best serve our 32,000-plus members, we all have to wear
many hats in the office. So we just can’t be square pegs in square holes. We have to be multidimensional squares so we can put ourselves in different positions to succeed.

But that’s why I am so focused on member engagement. We’re witnessing a turnover of the membership that is getting younger. I think the average service use to be like 28 years. But now members are retiring right at 25 years or maybe a couple of months thereafter.

So the newer State Delegates, newer officers, younger officers have to become engaged in the union because it’s up to us to leave this association in a better shape than when we came on. Which is a heavy burden.

We need to drive that member engagement so that the young people coming on the job now right out of college or the military understand the history of what the association has done for them. The history of collective bargaining. The history of legal protection. The history of why pensions are so important and why it was so important to separate the PFRS from the New Jersey Division of Pensions.

We need to drive member engagement because newer officers need to be aware of all that history, so they know the reasons why we need to do certain things. So they know why we have a collective bargaining seminar and conventions to inform members about the latest trends affecting their jobs.

And I want to drive member engagement to get to know our women and men on the job. We need to know what’s important to you. And when you ask the questions, we want to explain to you why we do what we do.

We want you to be engaged so when you are on Facebook or Instagram or the social media platform of your choice, you have the facts when you post. We want you to post that you heard it
from us, or you read in NJ Cops Magazine or you got it off our app.

We want to drive member engagement to expand our association.

I am humbled to be at your service as executive vice president. And my promise here is to make sure everything is there for you so you can have a long, successful, safe career.