Dear Editor:

I’m Rich Fortunato.  I’m running for the State Assembly in District 22 in the election this year on November 7. 

I’m running for the Assembly because over the last few years it has become apparent to me that our Legislature, through its inaction on important issues, is hurting the people of New Jersey, meaning you and me, our neighbors, and also our children and their children.

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It’s heartbreaking to meet people who have lived in their communities for years who are now having to move out because their real estate taxes are too high. I’ve meet a number of government workers who are concerned that the State will either go back on its retirement promises or will be broke when it comes time to pay their pensions. 

I’ve meet parents who wish that they had more choices available to them for their children’s education. And I’ve met many people who are extremely upset with the way their towns are being forced by the courts to accept thousands of new residential units, to be built by profit-hungry real estate developers, which will destroy the quality of life which made them choose to live in their towns in the first place.

Legislators fail to see that what they are doing either does now or will ultimately cause serious harm to the people they represent. And I don’t mean just financially. High real estate taxes are driving people out of New Jersey, and those that remain, especially seniors and others with low and middle incomes, suffer, having to decide how to budget among food, housing, nice things for the family and taxes.  When the full brunt of the pension crisis hits, money will dry up for many government services which many people rely on. (Will the State pay the pensions by cutting back on social services and Medicaid?) 

Many of our neighbors would very much like to have the choice to send their kids to a school other than the local public school because they, as parents, think doing so will give their kids a better education.  (Don’t parents usually know best what’s good for their kids?)  People are crying out for sensible affordable housing policies that don’t destroy the character of their towns.

Nothing gets done on these issues because doing so would hurt one or another special interest, go against party dogma, require some long term thinking and exercising some economic skills. None of those things are a priority for many of our Assemblymen. Getting reelected and keeping the party and the contributors happy seems to be all that matters.

We as a people deserve better from our Legislators than what we are getting. I think I would do a better job for the people of District 22 than Messrs. Green and Kennedy. For more information visit fortunatoforassembly.com.  I ask that you consider voting for me November 7.