SOMERVILLE, NJ - A trio of veteran Republican lawmakers have joined forces to run as a team in the June 6th primary in New Jersey's 16th legislative district, which includes towns in Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon and Mercer counties.
The ticket is led by state Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer, Hunterdon), former Assemblywoman Donna Simon, a Readington resident and current Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, a former councilman and mayor in Montgomery.
in their announcement Thursday, Bateman, Simon and Caliguire pledged to continue fighting on behalf of taxpayers, not entrenched Trenton special interests. The trio cited property tax relief, economic growth and jobs, spending reforms, school funding reform, government ethics and environmental stewardship as their top priorities.
"Donna and Mark will join me in being truly independent voices on behalf of the people we represent," Bateman said. "The three of us may not agree on every issue or vote the same way on every bill, but that diversity of opinion and ability to stand on principle is what strengthens us as a team. Too many politicians in Trenton press the buttons they are told to press, and are guided purely by political survival. Each of believes in telling people what they need to hear, not what we think they want to hear."
Simon, as a concerned citizen, led a recall effort of an elected official in her own party over ethics issues. She delivered on her campaign promise to hold the line on spending and reduce debt as a Committeewoman in Readington Township, and was widely known as a fiscal hawk in the State Assembly, including being recognized as a "Taxpayer Hero" by the non-partisan, fiscal watchdog group Americans for Prosperity.
Simon has been an advocate for children with special needs, victims of domestic violence, veterans, raising awareness of mental health issues, and treating drug addiction. She is a member of the Board of Trustees at Carrier Clinic.
Simon lost her bid for re-election in November, 2015 to Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, who now represents voters in the 16th District along with Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli who is running as a candidate for the Republican nomination as New Jersey governor.
Caliguire served on the Montgomery Township Committee from 2003 to 2009, and as mayor from 2009 to 2011. During that time, he led the charge to reduce spending and slash millions of dollars in debt, while preserving Skillman Park to protect valuable greenspace. He has been a leader on implementing shared and regionalized services on both the local and county level. As a Freeholder, Caliguire helped to implement fiscal policies that have cut spending to 2008 levels, kept unemployment and poverty rates down, and maintained a Triple "A" credit rating. Somerset is one of only a handful of counties to earn such a distinction.