Locals React with Mixed Feelings Toward Gov. Christie's Presidential Announcement

Livingston Mayor Silverman attends Christie protest at the Oval. Credits: provided by Michael Silverman
Gov. Christie announces bid for Presidency at LHS in Livingston, NJ. Credits: Jackie Goldman-Schatell

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston Mayor Michael Silverman said it came as a surprise to most people, and to some, a bit of a “slap in the face of the Livingston Township” that the mayor, the deputy mayor and two additional councilmen were not invited to Christie’s announcement on Tuesday, where he placed his hat in the ring for the office of President of the United States, at Livingston High School, his alma matter. Silverman said it was wrong for the governor to speak about working together when he chose not to invite the council, but that he wished the governor luck all the same.

“I wish the governor good luck in his election campaign,” said Silverman. “Do I agree with all his politics? No, I don’t. But he’s a former Livingston resident and this past Tuesday was a great day for Livingston, New Jersey.”

Despite his surprise at not being invited to the announcement, Silverman attended the protest rally held outside at the Oval during the event. Silverman said that what makes America great is that the protestors have the right to assemble and let their voices be heard in a respectful and honorable way.

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“And that’s what they did,” said Silverman. “They were out there. They had their signs. They were loud. But they were organized and respectful. They were within the law and that’s what makes America great — the opportunity to express your feelings, freely.”

Some of the protestors, like Janet Mandel, who recently retired after 32 years in New Jersey’s public school system, declared that now that Gov. Christie is running for president, it is time for him to resign as governor. According to the former West Orange teacher, funding for education has been slashed as Christie’s march to privatize public education proceeds apace. Mandel said it is faults like these and many others made during his time in office that are making most of the state demand that Christie step down as governor.

“We need a full-time governor, someone who will make decisions based on what is right for New Jersey, not what will play well with far right-wing primary voters of Iowa and New Hampshire,” said Mandel. “So far from ‘telling it like it is’ in his campaign announcement speech, Christie is 'telling it like it isn’t.’ In his egocentric, narcissistic world, he is Our Savior, and will not own up to the damage he has done.”

Maureen Donohue, a first-grade teacher in West Orange entering her 13th year in education, said that Christie’s announcement showed nothing but how much his ego has gotten away from him and that she is confident the rest of the country will see so soon. Christie proclaimed in his announcement speech that he has spent his years in office fighting for fairness, justice, and opportunity, but Donohue, who was amongst Tuesday’s rallying teachers, said most people do not agree.

“I was honored to be even a small part of Tuesday's rally,” said Donohue. “While I'm sure Christie paid little attention to all the people gathered on the Oval, I am hopeful that the media and the rest of the country will take notice.”

Aside from the pension deal Gov. Christie agreed to, Donohue and the protestors said he has made it “quite clear” through his statements, actions, and attitudes that he cares little, if it all, about public schools and teachers.

“The teachers I know—we work tirelessly to provide a top-notch education and safe learning environment every day,” said Donohue. “It's crushing to be constantly belittled and vilified by Gov. Christie.”

According to Donohue, Tuesday’s rally also included many other people affected by Christie's “negligence” including Sandy victims still without homes, environmental groups and the ATU. She said it felt good to be in solidarity with all of these people helping to spread the word and truly "tell it like it is.”

On the other hand, Livingston native Frederick W. Alworth, LHS Class of ’81, called Christie’s announcement an exciting and historical event for Livingston. Speaking on behalf of himself, his brother Jim, LHS ’82, and his sister Jill, LHS ’86, Frederick said Christie spoke from the heart, without a script, amongst family, friends and classmates and managed to deliver a “fantastic and compelling message.”

“That he chose Livingston High to announce his intention for the highest office in the land shows what a special place the town and community are and demonstrates nothing is out of reach for a Lancer,” said Frederick. “I would encourage everyone to get involved and support our 'hometown hero' through this once-in-a-lifetime journey.”

LHS Class of ’79 graduate Greg Bushwell agreed, stating the fact that Christie made his announcement at LHS compared to another place in the state was exciting but said it was also sad—exciting in that the governor has not forgotten his roots and sad in that Livingston is the only place he is accepted for whom he is.

“This is pretty much his only ‘cocoon,’ where he can go or come to and be accepted for what and whom he is, rather than being lambasted by a bunch of negative liberals that cannot face the truth and look for the negative in everything he says or does,” said Bushwell. “I thought his speech was done extremely well and I was most impressed with how comfortable he was in the setting. He did not hide behind a teleprompter like most politicians do and he seemed to truly speak from the heart.”

Bushwell said he is confident that Christie honestly believes that what he has to offer the country is something that will get it back on track and he is not afraid to be criticized in the process. Whereas some people think Christie is abrasive, Bushwell said his candor and 100 percent honesty is a breath of fresh air.

According to Bushwell, America was built on hard work by those like Christie who understood that they would be rewarded for the effort put in. In his opinion, the country’s current government has allowed people to “sit back and let someone else do the heavy lifting” and expect to share in the rewards. Bushwell said Christie’s promise to listen to any and all suggestions, regardless of party, showed that he has adopted the morals needed to properly run the country.

“Is Chris Christie the answer, can he or will he win—I just don't know?” said Bushwell. “What I do know is that if this country wants to regain its place of prominence in this world, we need a leader that speaks his mind—one that is willing to make the right decision regardless of what others may think. This country has been living on handouts for years and we are now paying for it. If the people are too blind to see that it has to stop and things need to change, shame on them, and not shame on the politician that is trying to right the ship.”

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