EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ – Republican Synovve Bakke of East Brunswick is running for the New Jersey State Assembly’s 18th Legislative District.
Born in New Jersey, Bakke grew up in Norway when her father was offered work in the offshore natural resource business. Twenty years ago, after earning a nursing degree, she returned to the United States and has resided in East Brunswick for the past 12 years. Bakke, a mother of four, is a Middlesex County Republican Committeewoman and, in 2011, she was elected to the East Brunswick Zoning Board, serving in this capacity until January 2015 when she stepped down to dedicate time to her candidacy for the 18th L.D. Additionally, since 2012, has served as legislative liaison to Republican Assemblyman Rob Clifton (12th L.D. – Old Bridge).
“I love helping people and giving back to the community and want to do it from my own office,” said Bakke, who noted that her work with Clifton, as well as her own experiences as a resident, have provided her with a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing New Jersey residents.
“When my children became older, I decided to go back to work for Assemblyman Rob Clifton … [and] it made me realize that families in the 18th Legislative District are not getting the kind of representation that Rob’s constituents are,” states Bakke on her website (http://www.bakkeforassembly.com). “The families in the 18th District want the same things as everyone else. They want someone who will strive for the interest of our district’s middle class families: better and equitable education funding, lowering already burdensome taxes on our families, and generally making our state a place our children will want to stay. After all, what parent wants to see their children and grandchildren move far away because they can’t afford it here anymore?”
Bakke said one of her top priorities if elected is to form an alliance to fix what she calls the state’s ‘unfair school funding formula.’ According to Bakke, under what was once known as the Abbott Decision, 56-percent of money received by local schools is distributed to 31 underperforming districts with high crime rates and low income – including but not limited to Camden, Jersey City and Newark.
“All this money is going to these underperforming districts and they aren’t getting better. Research has shown grades haven’t improved and yet we still continue to send money there,” Bakke said. “We are just pouring our money into them when we could be using it here, in our districts. We need to find some other way to help these communities.”
With less money coming in, Bakke said local school districts are unable to offer additional programming or make much-needed repairs and upgrades. “I love my town, the teachers and the schools but I see where they need improvement,” she said, noting that in the past, gym classes in East Brunswick have been cancelled on extremely hot days because there is no air conditioning. “In this day and age, when it is so important to keep our kids up and active they are instead sitting in the cafeteria. We need to bring this money back to our towns.”
According to Bakke, eliminating county government is another way to return money back to the communities. “County government is costing us $6.5 billion a year statewide,” she said, noting that Democratic-controlled Middlesex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders alone has a $430.8 million budget yet, in her opinion, has no accountability. “No one shows up to meetings and questions them or what they do,” Bakke said.
Bakke is a supporter of A4164, which was introduced in February by State Assemblyman Robert Auth (R – 39th L.D.) as a measure that would direct an obscure state commission to recommend to the Legislature how best to eliminate county government. “We need to get rid of county government and put the money back into our towns where we will know where the money is going,” she said, adding that by privatizing and consolidating as well as sharing services with neighboring towns, local municipalities would save money. “Towns would save money and, by having that money back from Middlesex, they would be able to do it.”
Changes of this nature, said Bakke, will never be possible under the current leadership. “The Democrats have been in control for 20 years and nothing has changed. Taxes are still high and school funding is still being sent outside the district,” said Bakke. “Unless [the Republicans] get majority or someone really great who can persuade the Democrats gets into office, nothing is going to change.”
She added, “I would represent the people not the lobbyists and I know I will make a difference. For me, it wouldn't be a part-time job. Helping people would be my full-time job.”
According to Bakke, her overall goal is for residents of the 18th L.D. – and really all of New Jersey residents – to be able to live comfortably and enjoy their families and lives here. Additionally, she is a firm believer that the political process is about public service. “I’m afraid that today, we have people in office who have lost sight of that goal, putting politics above the people they are supposed to represent,” she stated.