As you drive up Route 38 in Burlington County, you will go through a spate of “M” towns: Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Mount Holly. Two of these “M” towns, Moorestown and Mount Laurel, were recently moved from District 8 to District 7 as a result of the decennial legislative redistricting. So we went from a totally Christie Republican set of legislators to a mixed group. The seventh district is currently represented by a Republican senator (Diane Allen) and two Democratic assemblymen (Herb Conaway and Jack Connors.)
As part of their introduction to the M&M towns, the candidates for Assembly met with the Mount Laurel Democratic Club this evening. Since Assemblyman Connors is retiring, Troy Singleton is joining Assemblyman Conaway on the ticket and both men appeared at the Democratic Club meeting tonight. The Democratic senate candidate, Mayor Gail Cook of the City of Beverly, was unable to participate due to a conflicting city council meeting.
Herb Conaway and Troy Singleton
Singleton is no political neophyte and brings a wealth of experience to the ticket. He worked as a legislative aide for Conaway and Connors, and later worked for the Assembly majority office under Speaker Joseph Roberts. Singleton is currently the President of the New Jersey Carpenter’s Union and serves on the Turnpike Authority.
Conaway’s credentials are also impressive. A seven-term assemblyman and former Air Force officer, Conaway has earned degrees in both law and medicine, and ran for Congress against Burlington County Republican juggernaut Jim Saxton.
Conaway framed the 2011 election as a referendum on Governor Christie. He pointed out the governor’s broken promises in the areas of taxation and education, and the governor’s inept handling of federal funds such as the grant for Race to the Top. The assemblyman alluded to Christie’s political ambitions and said that many of the governor’s actions are playing to a national audience. He pointed out the need to retain the Democratic majority in the legislature as a check and balance on Christie’s harmful policies.
Conaway lamented the fact that his Republican colleagues have become a rubber stamp for the governor, and mentioned our senator, Diane Allen, as a prime example. Once an independent-minded Republican who advocated for women’s health, Allen now votes in lock-step with the governor’s anti-women’s agenda.
Conaway and Singleton had high praise for their colleague Jack Connors, and Singleton said that these were big shoes that he is trying to fill. He was disappointed that the governor is pitting neighbor against neighbor and vowed to work for all the citizens of the district. Both candidates talked about the need for real jobs programs where everyone can benefit, not just the privileged few. I don’t know if it was intentional, but Conaway used the MSNBC slogan, saying we have to “lean forward” moving into the future. Singleton emphasized the need for negotiation and compromise instead of confrontation.
The Democrats at the meeting offered both men suggestions on how to raise awareness and campaign in the Mount Laurel environment, and both candidates answered questions ranging from their positions on issues, family life, and Conaway’s recent meeting with President Barack Obama.
As a Mount Laurel resident, I’m thrilled to have these Democrats in my district instead of the three Republican incumbents who have never responded to letters that I have written. While Governor Christie may be trying to suppress opposition in the neighboring 8th district by denying a legitimate Democrat (Carl Lewis) a place on the ballot, we in the 7th are fortunate to have both an accomplished Assembly veteran and a lifelong union leader as our candidates here. If we can get their message out, and get the voters out in November, the two redistricted M&M towns will have representation in Trenton that we can all be proud of.