SOMERVILLE, NJ – Fed up with the status quo, state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16th), a Hillsborough resident who has made no secret of his desire to be the next governor of New Jersey, will make it official next Tuesday when he announces his candidacy for the GOP nomination at Manville High School.
A successful entrepreneur and small business owner with a strong track record of public service, Ciattarelli said he plans to run a campaign that appeals to Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters across the state from Day One, by promoting detailed and comprehensive solutions to the economic and fiscal crises facing New Jersey.
Ciattarelli would likely be opposed by Lt Gov. Kim Guadango in the June, 2017 GOP primary as well as any other candidates. She was elected to office with Gov. Chris Christie in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. Their terms conclude in Jan., 2018, with the New Jersey gubernatorial election in Nov., 2017.
Guadango has not yet announced her intentions.
“New Jersey has been heading in the wrong direction for decades. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations and state legislatures, we’ve reached the tipping point,” Ciattarelli said Thursday.
“We are last in economic growth, drowning in debt, unable to fund core priorities like infrastructure and pensions, crippled by rising property taxes and paralyzed by an unfair school funding formula that cheats children, taxpayers and school employees,” he added.
“Instead of real solutions, we’re stuck with commissions and task forces that talk about problems instead of solving them, and special interests that spend tens of millions each election to preserve the failed status quo,” he continued. “I have seen Trenton from the inside – it isn’t working. And so, next week I will commence a campaign intended to challenge conventional wisdom and chart a new direction for New Jersey that brings opportunity and optimism back to our great State.”
Ciattarelli, who has lived in Hillsborough since 1998, has been a member of the state Assembly since Dec. 5, 2011. Born in Somerville and raised in Raritan, the lifelong Somerset County resident served on the Raritan Borough Council and as a Somerset County Freeholder prior to his election to the Assembly.
Ciattarelli is focused on the state’s tax code and inequities in the state’s school funding formula stemming from the 1990 state Supreme Court ruling in Abbott vs. Burke. The court ordered the state to remedy an imbalance in the amount of state aid distributed to poor urban districts and more affluent suburban districts.
Fast forward 25 years, and many of those urban centers, including Jersey City, have experienced a revival, with a resultant shift in good fortune and demographics.
Developers have built high-end, high-rise condominiums and townhouses on the Hudson River waterfront; the price of real estate per square foot rivals prices across the river in Manhattan, and international chefs are featured at destination restaurants with views of the skyline.
Ciattarelli frequently targets Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a Democrat for criticism.
Jersey City was one of the school districts that benefited from the court’s mandate, and according to Ciattarelli, it still reaps the benefits at the expense of school districts in his district, which includes towns in Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Mercer counties.
“We need reform, it’s the key to the future of New Jersey,” Ciattarelli said.
Several weeks ago, Ciattarelli took a swipe at Fulop, who announced that the city would create an open space fund that would raise millions of dollars a year for land preservation.
Jersey City’s ability to do so is at the expense of taxpayers statewide, according to Ciattarelli, who are paying nearly 70 percent of Jersey City’s school taxes, based on the state Supreme Court ruling.
“Open space preservation is critically important,” Ciattarelli said, “but how is it that Jersey City requires statewide help to pay for its schools when it has the capacity to “create millions of dollars per year” to buy open space?
“Fulop’s announcement is another powerful example of how terribly flawed and blatantly unfair the school funding formula is,” he added. “It’s also an example of how local elected officials can exploit the state subsidy and unfairly low school property taxes to bloat municipal government.
“Not to pick on Jersey City, but what is fair is fair,” the assemblyman said.
Another Abbott district targeted for criticism by Ciattarelli is Hoboken.
“People live in $1 million townhomes in Hoboken and they have free pre-K for their kids. Are you kidding me?” Ciattarelli added. “Manville schools can’t afford to offer free pre-K.”
Ciattarelli will be sporting a shaved head at the 3 p.m. announcement, the result of his pledge to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises donations to help researchers find a cure for childhood cancers.
Last Saturday ,for the third year in a row, Ciattarelli agreed to have his head shaved at the Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company; this year he raised $2,500 in pledges.
Ciattarelli’s campaign office is located at 166 W. Main St. in downtown Somerville.