Freeholder Marie Hayes Honored in D.C., Embraces “Year of the Woman”

Freeholder Marie Hayes Honored in D.C., Embraces “Year of the Woman”

Cape May County Freeholder Marie Hayes, (second from left) with (from left) Rep. Elizabeth Wright of Utah; Rep. Morikawa Dee of Hawaii; Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, of Hawaii; and Rep. Lin Bennett of South Carolina at the Annual conference of the National Foundation of Women Legislators. (Photos courtesy of Lloyd Hayes)

By Tim Kelly

If 2018 marked the “Year of the Woman” in the mid-term elections, as numerous media outlets have termed it, then Marie Hayes is ahead of the curve.

Hayes, an Ocean City resident, has been a Cape May County Freeholder since February 2013, when she filled an unexpired term and was elected to a full three-year term in November 2014, well ahead of the record surge in women Congressional and Senate members.

“That was something that did come up during the week,” Hayes said on Friday from Washington, D.C., where she was named a “Woman of Excellence” of the National Foundation of Women Legislators during the organization’s annual conference.

“(Women) think differently than men and provide a different perspective,” she said. “It is great that we are making strides at all levels (of government).”

Altogether, there are 115 women in Congress and the Senate, the largest class ever, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

While Hayes, a Republican, serves at the county level, she feels a kinship with the sisterhood of federal lawmakers.

“It used to be, I would see a member’s name tag identifying them as a senator and I would be a little intimidated and might shy away from saying something to them,” Hayes said. “However, these are the women who came up to me and made me feel completely at ease.”

Hayes said the nation has become “much too polarized” and women’s voices can help change that.

“I truly believe that we are at a crossroads as a nation,” she said. “We’re not going to get anything accomplished (in Washington and Trenton) without listening to each other and reaching across the aisle. We might be of different parties and come from different areas of the country, but we have one very important thing in common; we all love America.”

Marie Hayes with Senator Carrie Rudd of Minnesota.

In her current role in county government, Hayes is responsible for the Board of Elections, Culture and Heritage, the library, museum and Cape May County Park/Zoo, Tax Board, Surrogate’s Office, Tourism and Public Information.

She also serves on the New Jersey Association of Counties’ executive board as its 2nd vice president and is a member of the Governor’s State Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Hayes was one of only 35 women honored nationally as a “Woman of Excellence” and one of two from New Jersey. Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez , a Democrat from Perth Amboy representing the 19th Legislative District, was the other New Jersey woman honored.

The award winners included representatives from almost every level of federal, state and local government. The group includes mayors, congressional representatives, U.S. senators and a lieutenant governor.

According to the NFWL, the award was initiated in 2013 to recognize women who “worked tirelessly, often breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles … to serve their community.”

Marie Hayes, top row, fourth from right, joins her fellow “Women of Excellence” award winners.

To be in the presence of such impressive leaders “is inspiring,” Hayes said, “and it renews me. It reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing. I can’t even begin to describe what a wonderful feeling it is to be among such accomplished people.”

One of the important lessons from the conference was a team-building exercise she hopes to incorporate into her duties as freeholder.

“We were given a number of challenges to solve in a bi-partisan way,” she explained. “One of the things they stressed was to seek out the strengths of individual members and utilize those strengths for the greater good.”

She said the group also looked at a number of issues facing the country. Of particular interest to Hayes were veterans’ issues and the many challenges facing the men and women returning to civilian life after serving in the military.

A graduate of Atlantic Cape Community College and Thomas Edison State University,  Hayes earned a degree in human services with a concentration in criminal justice. She also is a 1996 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

During her time at the FBI Academy, Hayes received special recognition for her work in the FBI’s death investigations course.

Hayes began her career in public service working as an investigator in the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office. The bulk of her career there was spent in the investigation and prevention of child abuse and sexual assault investigations.

She then made a rapid climb in her career path, becoming first the sergeant of detectives, then lieutenant and eventually retiring as captain of detectives in 2009.

She also served as vice president of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association’s local chapter and as president of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement.

Marie and her husband Lloyd have a son, Henry Lloyd, and two daughters, Megan and Danielle, a son-in-law, Vince, and six grandchildren.

Marie Hayes with Fatmeh Cheaib of Wayne University, a recipient of a NFWL Scholarship volunteering at the conference. (Photos courtesy of Lloyd Hayes)