(Editor’s Note: New Jersey is comprised of 40 Legislative Districts; the 18th Legislative District includes the Middlesex County communities of East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South River and South Plainfield. Assembly terms are two years and Election Day 2015 is Tuesday, Nov. 3.)
SOUTH RIVER, NJ – Republican Teresa Hutchison of South River is running for the New Jersey State Assembly’s 18th Legislative District.
Hutchison possess an associates degree in management, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was an honors major and has a doctor of medicine degree. She was born in New York and moved to New Jersey in 1998, settling in Toms River and, in 2005, moved to South River. Hutchison and her husband Jim, president of the South River Borough Council, are parents to one daughter, Kelsey, 20.
Hutchison is a professional photographer and, on a local front, is extremely active in the South River community. She currently serves as chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Person’s with Disabilities, chair of South River’s Memorial Day Parade Committee, and chair of the South River's Cultural Arts & Heritage Commission. She is past president of the South River’s Board of Health, which oversees its Food Bank. Additionally, she is a committee member for the Middlesex March of Dimes Walk for Babies and a medical volunteer at Zarephath Health Center in Somerset.
Hutchison said she is running for the 18th L.D. because she wants to curb excess spending, help build the economy to attract business and create jobs, improve the education system and re-evaluate Common Core & PARCC exams. “I understand the difficulties families are facing trying to survive in New Jersey and feels the current elected officials are not listening,” Hutchison said. “I am troubled with the disconnect in Trenton and I am unhappy with our education system and do not think those who are involved have our best interests in mind.”
If elected, Hutchison said she would work to curb reckless spending and runaway taxes. “We continue to pay higher and higher taxes for less and less in terms of service,” Hutchison said. “As a state, we need to use the same practices that my family or any small business use and that is responsible spending within budget. If you don't have it, you can’t spend it.” According to the candidate, “We can’t just continue to spend, spend, spend and then just raise taxes again and again. We need to get our priorities in order and spend responsibly and find ways to make cuts.”
As a member of the Assembly, Hutchison said she would look into cutting costs, starting with shared services. “Shared services will reduce expenses and eliminate some of the bloated salaries of people in offices and positions that are not necessarily productive,” she said.
Efforts, Hutchison added, also need to be made to protect New Jersey’s seniors. “Our seniors should be able to retire here without worrying they are going to be priced out of their own neighborhoods,” said the candidate. “We have to take that worry away and find a way to ensure they can stay in their hometowns.”
As a member of the Assembly, Hutchison said she will fight to make opportunities available to everyone willing to work hard and feels that by boosting its economy New Jersey can reduce the tax burden on residents. “We need to build our economy and attract business that create jobs. People with jobs spend money,” she said, noting that New Jersey also needs to do more to keep businesses – large and small – here. “We have to stop the over regulation and all the taxing put on businesses. If we don't, they will leave the community, state and even the country, which many have already done.”
When it comes to education, Hutchison said she is ‘unhappy’ and feels the state must re-evaluate its current school funding formula. She feels the New Jersey’s Abbott Decision – which requires 56-percent of money received by local schools be distributed to underperforming districts with high crime rates and low income – is unfair.
“A lot of school funding leaves our district and goes to other towns. This causes our property taxes to go up and the value of our education to go down,” said Hutchison, noting that under the decision, the 30-plus underperforming districts also qualify for free pre-K while districts in the communities footing the bill cannot afford to offer the program. “It’s not fair that the kids in our districts get less.”
Hutchison said she isn’t a fan of Common Core or PARRC testing and feels they are negatively affecting the way children are being taught and should be re-evaluated. “So much worry is put on the exams that our kids aren’t getting the proper education they need because teachers feel they have to gear their curriculum to the tests,” Hutchison said. “Our kids are not being taught what they really need to learn and that is wrong,” she said.
According to Hutchison, she is the candidate of choice because she is a ‘fighter,’ a ‘worker’ and the type of person who ‘won’t sit still.’ “I will take the issues to Trenton and work hard and stand up for the needs and rights of the voters. I will never ask residents to settle for less than they deserve because I personally won’t settle for less than they deserve,” said Hutchison, adding that, unlike the incumbents, she isn’t influenced by any special interest group.
“I will take the high road and the long road and stand up for the rights of the citizens in our district. I will listen to the experts but will make my own decisions based on fact and what is right for the district and not just what is right for a particular interest group,” Hutchison said. “I will do what is right for the district.”