FLEMINGTON, NJ – Republican 16th District Assembly challengers Donna Simon and Mark Caliguire have challenged incumbent Democrat Andrew Zwicker to join them in denouncing last week’s affordable housing ruling by the state Supreme Court, and to support Sen. Kip Bateman’s legislation that would allow towns to administer their own affordable housing obligations, providing municipalities the flexibility and autonomy to make their own decisions.
“We, as a compassionate society, should absolutely work to provide affordable housing to people in need," said Simon. "But by the same token, the New Jersey Supreme Court should not be in charge of telling us how and where to provide it.”
Simon was defeated by Zwicker in 2015, losing by 70 votes in an election that saw a 21 percent voter turnout.
She had collaborated with COAH experts and local mayors and sponsored a legislative fix that died in the Assembly.
“Local planning decisions are best left to local elected officials – both Republican and Democrat – who know what is best for their community and their residents,” she said.
Simon pointed to her hometown of Readington, and neighboring Raritan Township, potentially being forced to build 1,000 new affordable units.
“That’s just outrageous,” Simon said. “Does the court just expect these towns to pave over open space and destroy the quality of life for the people who currently live there?”
Caliguire pointed to his hometown of Montgomery, which could also see 1,000 new units in the next eight years.
“Where does it stop?” asked Caliguire, a former Montgomery Township mayor and current Somerset County freeholder. “Somerset and Hunterdon counties would be devastated by these court-ordered mandates with literally thousands upon thousands of new mandated housing units without having any say whatsoever.
" A heavy-handed court should not be able to usurp the power of elected officials and muzzle the voices of local taxpayers," he continued. "As a legislator, I would fight this tooth and nail."