NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Longtime Democratic incumbents representing New Brunswick in the state Legislature are facing competition from a Republican slate and a third-party candidate when voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 7.
New Brunswick is part of the 17th legislative district (LD-17), along with Franklin Township, Piscataway, Milltown and North Brunswick.
There are two seats in the General Assembly, which is the lower house of the State Legislature, and one seat in the State Senate, which is the upper house. All three seats are up for grabs.
TAPInto New Brunswick asked for candidate statements, seeking the candidates' plan to make New Brunswick an even better city in which to resident and work. Below are their unedited response:
Bob Smith, State Senate, Democrat - Smith has served since 2002:
- The $200 million for New Brunswick High School
- Restoration of several middle schools
- The $200 million for Route 18 improvement
- Designating New Brunswick an Urban Enterprise Zone
- This year, obtaining a $45,000,000 EDA tax credit for the new New Brunswick Performing Arts Center
Next term, if elected, installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in New Brunswick to facilitate electric vehicles and better health.”
Daryl Kipnis, State Senate, Republican:
“We have a big problem right now with unaccountable agencies running amok not doing their jobs. Right now I’m leaning towards eliminating the New Brunswick Housing Authority and restructuring its operations. You have to replace people who don’t care with others that will be happy do their job.
New Brunswick Water Utility issues are very troubling as well. Also, we have a big problem with the municipal government handing out payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) and tax abatements to insiders which starve schools of funding because they are not considered property tax dollars.
There needs to be fairness and accountability. I want to spend some time observing in the public schools as well and speaking with teachers and administrators to find out how I can help them.
I want every resident of New Brunswick to know they have someone in Trenton who will always listen to them when their local officials and bureaucrats do not. I will make my best efforts to work with those that genuinely want to do their jobs for the people they serve and hold accountable the ones that don’t.”
Joseph V. Egan, General Assembly, Democrat - Assemblyman Joseph V. Egan has served in the General Assembly since 2002:
“This is Assemblyman Joe Egan, I have devoted my entire career to creating new jobs and promoting labs that protect the health and safety of working men and women, to achieve a fair and equitable minimum wage. I am Chairman of the Assembly's Labor Committee and served for many years as a New Brunswick Councilman.
I urge you to vote for me and for my running mates, Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman Joe Danielsen. Together, we are fighting to increase state aid to education and to soften the burden of property taxation. All three of us have been selected for leadership position in the Legislature and we are all dedicated to provide real and effective leadership with you and your family in mind."
Robert Quinn, General Assembly, Republican:
“As the public may know, I am the only candidate in the race having participated in the 2015 State Wide NJ Department of Education Study Commission testimony sessions on Common Core/PARCC. If elected, I will sponsor legislation to remove Common Core aligned standards and test PARCC tests from our state. The standards and test have had a detrimental impact to our vulnerable children.
In a further attempt to decrease poverty in New Brunswick and throughout our state, I support a strengthening of our library systems as well as a full accounting of which schools throughout the state require books for the children but cannot afford to purchase them. During my pre-candidacy activities, it became apparent that this is a common issue in our schools - and an unacceptable one. If a child desires to learn in our society, it is our responsibility to ensure that the means in place to ensure their success.
I note the lack of voice from such organizations as the Central Jersey Progressive Democrats in our government. Having met a number of their members on the campaign trail, I truly believe many of the concerns they have raised are real and true. Gerrymandering, influence of big money in elections, support for our environment for future generations, investment in infrastructure, and heavy influences of land developers in our government and elections are all extremely important and valid issues that impact all in our communities. If anything, perhaps our incumbents will be reminded on election day that this is the people's government.
Finally, at least one of your incumbents recently declined to support legislation for women's health services clinics citing "religious beliefs". While one may have differences in personal beliefs versus public policy, it is the role of our representatives to support the will of the people even if this differs from one's personal beliefs. The people have made it very clear they desire the funding of these services and I would support their will if elected.”
Joe Danielson, General Assembly, Democrat - Assemblyman Joe Danielsen has served in the General Assembly since 2014:
“As a lifelong resident of Franklin Township, I have the distinct honor of serving as your Assemblyperson in the 17th Legislative District since November 2014. In that capacity I have focused my attention on rebuilding our state’s economy, seeking legislation to improve the quality of life for all citizens, especially senior citizens and military veterans, increasing state aid to k-16 education and improving the economic environment of small business.
I also know that the greatest service I can provide my constituents is to be a resource and client center when issues that impact their daily lives are compromised. That is why my motto of “Always at your service” is the center piece that I and my office place first on a daily bases. Each day we handle over 15 calls from constituents needing some direction or help with a government service, and we provide that direction and assistance.
While I have been fortunate to have many bills signed into law, it is in the service to others that gives me my greatest satisfaction. Coming from a family of nine children, and raised by a single mother who was a Franklin educator, she always taught me the value of giving back. My journey from volunteer firefighter to serving in the US Army to fundraising for St. Baldrick’s Cancer Foundation has provided me the direction to be the best I can be in helping those who seek help.
Today as Vice Chairman of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and as a member of the Assembly Financial Intuitions and Insurance Committee, I am continuing to strive to provide direction for building a “new “New Jersey. That is why I am proud that I helped bring state funds into the district for our new arts center in New Brunswick and for the North Brunswick train station. I also continue my efforts to raise health and safety concerns about compressor station 206 here in Franklin.
On November 7, we all have an obligation to make our state a better tomorrow than it is today and I hope to continue that journey as your representative.
Michael Habib, General Assembly, It’s Our Time
New Jersey needs a change. Partisanship has led to a gridlock that does nothing but stall progress and keep us from solving the problems facing our state. Under both Republican and Democratic leadership, our economic standing has plunged as mismanagement and false promises have left families struggling to keep up with the ever increasing taxes and cost of living. I believe I could bring a much needed change to our state legislature. Socially, I am progressive and fiscally. I support smart spending, meaning I’ll spend taxpayer dollars as long as the money we spend has a measurable benefit to the citizens of New Jersey.
As it relates to New Brunswick, we need to ensure proper rent protections are in place to prevent housing displacement as the city continues to grow and expand. Investment in further infrastructure developments which stimulate job growth, including the proposed Amazon HQ project, will help decrease crime rates and raise wages. Until it is fully legalized on the state/federal level, I believe at a minimum New Brunswick should decriminalize marijuana as the current laws are archaic. Finally, I support a stronger investment in our education system.”
Republican General Assembly candidate Nadine Wilkins did not provide a statement.