My name is Bill Irwin and I’m the Central Jersey Progressive Democratic candidate for State Senate in Legislative District 17. I am proud to run with 85 other candidates in Middlesex County and in Franklin Township that are challenging the status quo in the June 6 Primary. Inspired by Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 run for President. We are a slate of veterans, nurses, teachers, policemen, business leaders, environmentalists and citizens from all walks of life who are taking up the fight to change politics in New Jersey. We aren’t professional politicians and we are aren’t beholden to corporate donors. We believe we need a Democratic Party that can fight Donald Trump and take back our government from millionaires and billionaires.
My running mates and I have are honored to be endorsed by leading progressive organizations such as Our Revolution (formed after Sen. Sanders’ historic 2016 Presidential run), Democracy For America, and Our Revolution New Jersey Volunteers. We are bringing the political revolution to Central Jersey and we seek your support. On June 6, in Middlesex County, vote Column “C” for “Change” and in Franklin Township, Vote Column 7.
Why I Am Running:
Like many across our great nation, on the night of November 8th I felt shock and despair. But on the morning of November 9th, I got to work. I was heartened by the call put forth by Sen. Bernie Sanders and others to begin the process of rebuilding our Party from the ground up by running Progressive candidates at every level. In those early, difficult days after the Presidential election, I looked to the Democratic leaders we have representing us in Piscataway and at the state level, and only heard silence from them. I did not see champions of working people. Instead, I have seen leaders who are collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to implement Trump's immoral and illegal immigration plans. I see elected officials withholding support for a $15/hour minimum wage, and doing little to stop the Williams Transco pipeline from coming into our community. Our locally elected Democrats helped Chris Christie cut the estate tax for 3500 wealthy families by raising the gas tax on the rest of us. I asked myself, whose side are they really on?
They certainly don’t seem to be on the same side as the people I know in my community. A few people who were also concerned about our collective future got together and began talking to other people they knew; a small group quickly became a large one of candidates willing to run for county committee here in our area, to change the Party and stand together. I am proud to be running with an incredible slate of working people committed to bolster the ranks of the Democratic Party so that it can be a bulwark against Trump and bring voters back to the Party because it reflects our values. My running mates and I believe in and will fight for the values the Democratic Party is supposed to be working to achieve. We earned the endorsement of two major national progressive organizations, Our Revolution and Democracy For America, because of our commitment to the issues and track record on them. As President of the Piscataway Board of Education, I worked with other members to ensure that our school community protects our immigrant students, our transgendered students and our students who are facing hunger. I am enormously proud of our entire slate, and honored to head this ticket of people who are willing to stand up and be counted when our country and our community need us.
On the Issues:
I believe our leaders must resist the Trump Agenda, including opposing his immoral and illegal executive orders. I am a proponent of creating fair and welcoming communities at the state, county and local levels, and am proud that our school system was the first in New Jersey to protect our students on this issue.
Like my fellow Central Jersey Progressive Democrats (CJPD), I was outraged last fall year when our Democratic Senator and Assemblymen sided with Governor Christie to shift the tax burden of paying for roads and bridges from the top 3,500 wealthiest New Jersey families and onto to the middle and working class by raising the gas tax on the rest of us. It was not only a transfer of wealth to most well-off New Jerseyans (literally, less than the one percent -- the .01%), it blew a huge $300 million hole in the state budget that simply cannot be made up without horrible cuts that will harm our most vulnerable residents. The incumbents say they had no choice but to vote with Christie. That does not bode well for their ability to fight Donald Trump.
Take climate change for example. I oppose the creation of the proposed Transco Gas Pipeline which is slated to bring unneeded fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania underneath large sections of Central Jersey, under Raritan Bay, and utilize a compressor station to be built on the South Brunswick/Franklin border. This pipeline serves no public interest and will needlessly put people in danger while undermining efforts to reverse global warming and wean our country from fossil fuels. I believe that New Jersey should be aggressively pursuing a clean and renewable energy future, not increasing our dependence on fossil fuel.
I believe in raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, in ensuring equal pay for equal work and investing in community facilities that benefit us all. Our candidates do not accept corporate campaign contributions and we support overturning Citizens United to restore the one-person, one vote principle on which our democracy depends. I hope people will review our policy positions in more detail on our website.
My Qualifications for Office
I am proud to have helped organized and lead a slate of over 85 down ballot candidates running for party office, General Assembly and Freeholder. I have been a Piscataway homeowner for 19 years, where I have lived with my wife and two sons. A volunteer Little League manager and Rec Baseball coach, I have served as the President of the Piscataway Board of Education since first winning my seat as part of a grassroots, community led campaign in 2014. I ran in response to the growing class sizes our community was experiencing. As a former teacher (I received my Master of Education degree from Rutgers University Graduate School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University), I thought I could help be part of the solution. I am extremely proud of the work of our Board: adopting NJ’s first policy to protect immigrants in our school community, to defend the rights of our transgender students, to ensure a strong food justice policy, as well as securing academic excellence and national recognition for our work. I have worked hard to make sure that our students and staff have an exceptional learning environment, and was honored to accept the National School Board Association’s Grand Prize Magna award for our innovative work. I am a proud Progressive Democrat who deeply believes in an agenda for social, political and economic justice for all.