Now It's Up To Us

This truly dispiriting gubernatorial campaign has finally come to an end. I congratulate Chris Christie on his hard fought victory. But this campaign, dominated by harsh negative attacks, provided no clear issue mandate for the winner making it clearer than ever that we can not simply sit back and wait for Trenton to fix our state's problems. It is up to us.

With our highly educated citizens and our Jersey "attitude" we have huge untapped potential. However, it is time to recognize that achieving that potential requires that we change our political culture.

Research shows that New Jersey voters know less about their state's politicians and issues than voters in most other states. This is in large measure a result of a lack of a New Jersey broadcast television station where we could have the benefit of shared Jersey news; where we could develop a common understanding of our economic crisis; where we could be motivated by new leaders.

And in the resulting blackout, our State is run not by and for the benefit of the People, but by powerful county political bosses and the special interests which pad the political pockets of the bosses with pay-to-play cash. In short, we've lost control of our state. And, it's time we took it back.

The good news is that thanks to the hard work of several hundred citizen leaders contributing their time and working under the flag of the non-partisan Citizens' Campaign, there are two new laws that open the door for a much needed change of our State's political culture.

The first, signed by the Governor in September is called the Party Democracy Act. It holds out the potential for the People to retake control of our political parties, along with the power to decide who gets endorsed to run for governor and all the other offices of leadership. In addition, it creates the possibility for retaking significant control of our Legislature, now dominated by county party bosses, and for establishing party platforms that address the People's concerns.

But none of this will happen unless we take the time to learn how to take advantage of the Party Democracy Act, including knowing how regular citizens can easily take over the neighborhood level party offices that are empowered by the Act.

The second law which paves the way for us to change the political culture is the Citizens' Service Act. Signed into law in October, it opens up the closed shop of government appointments to important policy boards, many of which impact our property tax base and our local government spending -- which is where most of our tax dollars go.

Now, citizens have a clear path for taking positions on these boards, including their town's Planning Boards and Budget Commissions. But again, we have to learn how all this works.

Whether it's taking back control of the political parties, so the People can endorse their own candidates or taking leadership on the local boards and commissions which affect our property taxes, the first ingredient in changing Jersey's political culture is knowledge. That knowledge is now available for free, on line, on demand for all who wish to apply their Jersey brains and Jersey "attitude" to the fight for our State's future and our families' futures.

The Jersey Call to Service, a new campaign to inspire 5,000 citizen to take grassroots power is offering half-hour classes on both the political parties, with their power to choose our governors and legislators and the government policy boards, which affect our property taxes and quality of life.

It is now up to us. New Jersey has so much potential. We needn't accept our political bondage and the high taxes that come with it. All we need to do is to answer the Jersey Call to Service and log on to Political culture change is possible, and it begins not with the officials in Trenton, but with We the People.

Mr. Pozycki is the Chairman of the Citizens' Campaign, a non-partisan organization leading a "Jersey Call to Service," a public service initiative to inspire citizens to participate in the leadership of their communities and reverse the tide of government waste and corruption.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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