Many times friends ask me what I like most about serving in the State Senate. The answer is always the same… “being able to help people out when they don’t know where to turn.” A commonplace event in my legislative office is a concerned constituent seeking help with anything from dealing with a state agency to expediting needed services for a parent or child. Nothing is more rewarding than being at Dunkin Donuts and having someone come up and thank me for helping them out of what they thought was a hopeless situation. Here are two recent examples of how rewarding it is to hold public office:

(1) A few months ago, Dr. Mary Jo Paradiso, who is on the staff of the Veterans Home at Menlo Park, informed me that, without notice, funding for veterans’ transport to their personal doctor was discontinued by the state. She told me that families were forced to pay up to $300 to have a loved one, who served our country, transported by ambulance for treatment or examination. The state refused to restore the funding. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I have the unique opportunity to give input on state expenditures. My colleague, State Senator Jeff Van Drew, and I sponsored a Resolution to restore $1 million in the state budget for these services. The budget, signed by the Governor on July 4th, includes this expenditure. Our veterans will now have access to this needed transportation service. This is the least we can do for those who put their lives on the line to keep our country free and strong.

(2) About three months ago, I attended a meeting at the South Plainfield Senior Center with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Edison Wetlands Association (EWA). At that meeting the executive director of the Association, Bob Spiegel, and John Wiley, who is the former Mayor of Metuchen and provides free legal services to the EWA, told me about a challenge facing their organization. The Dismal Swamp located in Edison near the South Plainfield border is a vibrant environmental laboratory but it was unable to fulfill its mission because funding from the State for a property survey never came. The next day I called John and asked him to provide me with documentation of what was needed. I submitted a budget request for $200k based on that submission, which will cover the cost of the project. Again the expenditure was approved as part of the budget signed by the Governor on July 4th.

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For those of you who are considering running for public office I ask that you look at these events and realize that the good you can accomplish far outweighs the made up negative stuff your opponents say about you during a campaign.

If I can ever be of assistance don’t hesitate to call my legislative office (908)757-1677, visit my website at www.PatrickDiegnan.com, email me at SenDiegnan@njleg.org or stop in 908 Oak Tree Road, Unit P, South Plainfield for a visit.