BARNEGAT, NJ – Earlier this week, Barnegat’s next mayor shared the signs leading to his decision to run against incumbent Democratic Congressman Andy Kim. In an exclusive interview with TAPintoBarnegat/Waretown, Republican John Novak also provided some insight as far as his credentials, goals and opinions.
Novak was born in 1958 and grew up in Lakewood, New Jersey in what he calls a “poor” family. Who he thought were his parents subsequently turned out to be his maternal grandparents.
“I didn’t learn that until my 41st birthday,” Novak admits. “The woman I thought was my much older sister was actually my mother.”
The revelation acts as just one of the reasons that Novak takes such a tough stance against abortion. Although it wasn’t legal back in the 1950s, there’s a chance his unwed mother considered termination.
“My faith leads me to the importance of protecting both unborn children and protecting the lives of live born children after failed abortions,” says Novak.
During his time in local office, Novak often references his faith and cites biblical references to make points. At times, community members have challenged him, saying that the Constitution calls for a separation between church and state.
“Those words don’t appear in the Constitution,” shares Novak. “The Constitution guarantees the freedom “of” religion – not the freedom “from” it.”
In explaining further, Novak said that the early Pilgrims had their religious beliefs oppressed before they left the motherland. They wanted to worship as they wanted and not be subjected to an official religion.
“I’m not looking to impose my Christian beliefs on anyone,” Novak insists. “I believe in sharing God’s word and starting the dialogue.”
It’s not as if Novak is a stranger to the Constitution or the law itself. He spent the first five years of his career as a New Jersey State Trooper. When he was accepted to Rutgers Law School in Camden, Novak decided to leave law enforcement.
Determined to move up in life, Novak has been self-employed in some type of business since he was eighteen years old. When he graduated from law school, he set up shop as a solo attorney.
“My first secretary and I just looked at the phone and waited for it to ring,” he laughs. “Now, it doesn’t stop ringing. I have to do a great job for my clients, or they’ll find someone else out there. I believe that also means treating my staff more than fairly, so they’ll want my law office to succeed.”
It’s here that Novak describes his commitment to business and capitalism. “Smart capitalists will pay workers well,” he says. “Rewarding line staff delivering products to service will increase brand loyalty.”
As a prospective Congressman, Novak wants to reduce regulations. In particular, Novak feels that businesses are strangled by environmental regulations. He sees traffic issues as a concern throughout CD-3 and points to regulations regarding the wetlands and the Pinelands National Reserve.
“Roads need to be widened, and extended and can’t because of regulations,” says Novak. “You just can’t compare safety of life issues with the protection of bullfrogs, trees and plants.”
In the Burlington County area, Novak thinks that less government regulation would lead to more jobs as the area is near many major arteries. He wants to the exploit the benefits of transportation and bring in more jobs.
“I want to see people become more self-supporting,” Novak shares. “We have four and five generations of people on entitlement programs who have never worked or lived outside government housing.”
Novak has a particular passion about helping veterans and sees them as more than photo opportunities. “If we send a young man or woman into the military and they come back maimed or with PTSD, we need to take care of them for life,” says Novak. “We shouldn’t treat couch sitters better than our veterans.”
The same holds for senior citizens. Novak would like to see tax benefits for seniors and more programs available to them. He says that Ocean County has many older people who need help.
As far as his thoughts on immigration, Novak thinks that anyone who enters the country illegally and breaks the law should be deported. However, he does want to give a right to citizenship to at least one group of individuals who he says entered the country illegally – albeit, innocently.
The congressional candidate then relates the story tells of two young girls whose parents brought them to the United States as young children from Mexico. One sister qualified for DACA protection. She was able to work legally and get a driver’s license.
However, by the time the program was available for the younger sister, the government stopped accepting applications. “A child who comes as an infant and learns the language and assimilates shouldn’t have to worry about being sent away,” says Novak. “Many have a passion and love for America that some born here don’t appreciate.”
Novak, who pays over $20K in property taxes would also spearhead a campaign to change the SALT deduction. The cap limits the deduction to just $10K.
“I think Andy Kim should be working on getting this changed,” Novak insists. Truth be told, it was Andy Kim’s predecessor Tom MacArthur who voted in favor of the GOP tax plan when it came into effect.
As far as Novak is concerned, Andy Kim is a candidate who has adept skills and continues to campaign in the district since he first assumed office. “He’s a left leaning liberal as reflected by his voting record,” asserts Novak.
Conversely, Novak sees himself as speaking from the heart and honest on the issues. “Despite the political risk of saying so, I’m pro-life and protecting the Second Amendment.”
As far as his political accomplishments, Novak says he’s been behind many of the changes in Barnegat over the last five years. The Township has retired debt and the bond rating has increased. This puts Barnegat in a position to build a long overdue new town hall and police station.
There’s one thing that Novak wants to made clear. He doesn’t want anyone to view him as a boaster. “I don’t want anyone to think that I perceive myself as holier than thou. I am a sinner saved by grace and nothing more.”
Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.