To the Editor:

I’ve lived in New Jersey with my wife and 5 children for 28 years. NJ is blessed with great beaches, proximity to NYC, and great schools. We were lucky enough to choose Chatham and be able to participate in building a great community where people volunteer for causes benefiting our entire community. Chatham represents the best of the classic small-town model.

That said, statistics tell us we live in one of the most mismanaged states in the country. NJ has long been a Blue state run by a dynamic duo of democratic legislators and judicial politicians who craft policy, control the budget and legislate from the bench. Like national politics, when you “own” the legislative and judicial branch, you control policy and decision making, regardless of who the Governor is at the time. In the business world, in which most of us in Chatham participate, we are evaluated annually based on our performance. Not so for the state of NJ. The Democrats have built a political machine that is set up to double down on the same failing policies year in and year out. And since 2016, national & state Democratic money has been flowing into small local towns, including Chatham, to extend that political machine. So “local” has taken on a whole new meaning and you can see it in the nasty rhetoric spewed inside Chatham the last 4 years. But here are some daunting stats for those hoping to build a family/life in NJ:

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NJ has had THE largest number of residents fleeing the state since 2012, and many of those who are leaving are in the higher income tax bracket, putting even more tax burden on all the NJ residents that stay.

NJ has THE largest unfunded pension liability. Why does this matter? Because it’s real money owed, yet Gov. Murphy and his supporters in Trenton believe the promises made to public employees need not be renegotiated; rather tax increases on a declining “wealthy” population will solve the problem. The reality is there is no taxing us out of this massive problem. At least Republican Governor Chris Christie had the insight and vision to put the NJ Lottery income towards pension liability.

NJ has the highest property tax rates in the country. The democratically control legislature feels tax increases are a limitless source of funding and a way to redistribute income in our state. In fact, they’ve increased our taxes 155 times in the past 2 years.

NJ is the 4th highest income taxed state in the country. And who owns the #1 spot? California – and we all know who runs that state (and it’s not the GOP.)

NJ is the worst state to do business in. With the highest property tax in the country and 2nd highest corporate income tax rate, not to mention the significant state-required “red tape”, it’s no surprise businesses are leaving or not choosing to start-up in NJ. In fact, my company shuttered our South Jersey office last year and moved it to neighboring Pennsylvania. Where will that lost tax revenue come from? Who will cover that unfunded pension liability and continued growth of state programs? You know…

Why do I share these stats with Chatham residents? Because I was naïve. I believed local party didn’t matter. But the Democratic party changed the game in 2016 where local is the new national and then I did some searching and realized most of these Democratic politicians in Trenton destroying our great state over the past 2 decades came from local town governments across the state. You bet it matters!

Having sat on Chatham Borough council for 9 years, I saw first-hand the nonsense and ridiculous unfunded state mandates being shoved down our throats by Democrats in Trenton. Chatham Township is in the midst of dealing with one of many well-intentioned, but pathetic policies, on COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) which mandates “fair share” Affordable Housing. This policy allows for community crushing builders’ remedies and are a direct infringement on municipalities’ ability to govern themselves. We in Chatham Borough dealt with this a few years ago and the taxpayer-funded expense and exhaustive time spent is yet another example of well-run towns and school systems being “pulled” into the ineffective and misguided policies by our state legislators. For reference, Gov. Christie’s attempts to end COAH and replace it with a more reasonable plan were shut down by the democratically controlled legislative and judiciary

I write this knowing those who are staunch GOP or Democratic supporters will vote party line regardless of the facts, but I share this information with those who are moderate and tired of the democratically controlled NJ government failing all of us. Local party DOES matter and the GOP governing body in Chatham has proven its smart, effective leadership over the past decade has been able to get important things done to keep this wonderful Chatham community running, while maintaining fiscal discipline, prudent redevelopment planning, low tax increases, and what many would say, the best services in NJ.

I encourage all Chatham residents to support the team of Bob Weber, Stacey McEvoy, and Paul Kelley and start tackling one election at a time to move our state in the right direction.

Jim Lonergan

Chatham Borough