Tag Archive: LD34

An Absent Senator

Before Woodland Park was redistricted into the 40th District, my hometown was a part of the old 34th District. As a three-term Councilman, and the current Mayor, I worked with elected officials at every level of government to solve the problems faced by our residents.

Congressman Pascrell was and is always a phone call away when a problem arises. Speaker Oliver and Assemblyman Giblin advocated for Woodland Park in the State Assembly. Even my current Republican Senator Kevin O’Toole has been active in Woodland Park, recently holding a town hall meeting with constituents.

Not so with Senator Gill.

The constituent services from her office were non-existent. Flooding has been a persistent problem in Woodland Park, yet Senator Gill never worked on are behalf for funding or solutions. Senator Gill was an absent Senator. The 34th District deserves better, and the Democratic Party deserves better.

Now, Woodland Park is no longer in the 34th, so you might be wondering, why I’m even writing this blog? That is simple: I know Mark Alexander. And I know the type of leader he can be in the State Senate. Over the past twelve months, he has been a constant presence in Clifton and Passaic County. He is the progressive independent leader we need fighting for the core principles of the Democratic Party in the State Senate.

Even though Woodland Park is no longer in the 34th, I know he will only be a phone call away if Woodland Park needs his help. Just like Congressman Pascrell.

I’m urging all of my friends and neighbors in Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange to vote “Mark Alexander” for the New Jersey State Senate.

The Star-Ledger Endorses Mark Alexander in the 34th District

Full Disclosure: I work for Mark Alexander.

Last week, The Star-Ledger endorsed our campaign with an editorial every voter in the 34th District (and progressive Democrat) needs to read. As they wrote about Senator Gill:

She is an average player at best, and the main reason is she simply does not devote the energy to the job that’s required to do it well.

They go on:

Alexander is fighting the machine, and that makes him the underdog in a system like New Jersey’s. But he deserves to win. And it is not a close call.

Click here to get involved before June 4th and send an independent Democrat to Trenton.


“We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good”

Promoted by Rosi. We invite Senator Gill to reply.

Cross-Posted at VoteMarkAlexander.com

This was Senator Nia Gill’s excuse to explain her support for the watered-down gun control legislation introduced by Senator Steve Sweeney. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is baffling to me that Senator Gill could even utter those words in front of the families of Newtown victims. That’s Senator Gill’s excuse for not pushing forward a bill limiting the size of ammunition magazines yesterday.

All elected officials must stand by a simple pledge: when it comes to protecting our children, we must put politics aside.

Senator Gill once again let politics dictate her actions, leaving New Jersey families out in the cold. How can a Democratic Majority in the State Senate, coupled with a nationwide demand for stricter gun control, not result in legislation that provides comfort, safety and peace of mind to families? Senator Gill’s inability to get the magazine limit even posted for a vote demonstrates her failed leadership.

It further highlights our need for new representation in Trenton.

Senator Gill’s failure to act for tougher guns laws is further illuminated by a look behind the scenes. Senator Sweeney, who makes the ultimate decision on what bills are posted, has steered over $30,000 in campaign contributions to Senator Gill. Even though Senator Gill at first supported the ammunition capacity limit bill (which passed the Assembly), she abandoned it in favor of Senator Sweeney’s wishes, selling out not only her principles, but New Jersey families as well.

We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

This is transactional politics at its worst.

Double Dipping in LD34

Full Disclosure: I am Mark Alexander’s Communications Director.

This past week, 34th District State Senate candidate Mark Alexander appeared on NJTV‘s On The Record with Michael Aron. Unfortunately, Senator Gill refused to appear on the show with Mark, so they appeared in back-to-back interviews. Our campaign will continue to call for Senator Gill to debate in every community in the 34th District so residents are given the opportunity to hear directly from those looking to represent them in Trenton.

One thing was most telling about Senator Gill’s interview. In discussing her $50,000 no-bid legal contract with the Essex County Improvement Authority, she said the following:

“I’m a lawyer. I’ve been a lawyer for 28 years and I’ve had this job for the last five [the $50,000 contract with the Essex County Improvement Authority]. They are a client. And so, it is nothing that has not been reported on. It is on my disclosure form. The no-bid contract is a service contract, it’s not a contract that is no-bid because of me.”

This is the problem in New Jersey. Too many State Legislators are benefitting from inside deals like this one, and think it is acceptable conduct. How can Senator Gill be independent when part of her livelihood is dependent on a public contract given to her by the Essex County party bosses? When Governor Christie dismantled NJN, Senator Gill was a willing participant. Why? The Essex County bosses made her fall in line.

A State Senator getting a no-bid contract from a public entity is unacceptable.

Mark isn’t going to Trenton for a job or contract. He is going to serve the people of the 34th District, first and foremost. As a tenured Law Professor at Seton Hall, he doesn’t need to worry about outside influences affecting how he votes. The people will always be his first priority. And his independence will be unquestioned.  

Watch the full segment here.

Protecting our environment on Earth Day

promoted by Rosi

Protecting our environment, combatting climate change, and adopting sensible sustainability measures need to be priorities of our State Legislature. Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the consequences of inaction on these important issues. As a member of the New Jersey State Senate, I would push for common sense policies that protect our environment and make New Jersey more eco-friendly. Additionally, I would advocate strongly for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and for a carbon tax that could provide a funding stream for mass transit projects in our State.

Cleaning up the Passaic River

The Passaic River is one of the most polluted waterways in the country. The watershed is in the most densely populated area in New Jersey – serving 3 million people. We need to protect and bring the Passaic River back to life. Dredging projects must continue throughout the entire 17 miles of the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay. Currently, only the lower 8 miles of the Lower Passaic River are slated for dredging, leaving the upper 9 miles of the river that flows through Clifton without a cleaner and more usable Lower Passaic River. Dredging would significantly improve water quality and ensure that contaminants will not create problems for future generations.

Earth Credits

These tax credits would incentivize sustainable and eco-friendly practices, and move construction and building codes towards sustainability. New Jersey gives millions in subsidies and corporate welfare to companies that pollute our environment. It is now the time to spend a little less to those who destroy, and give more to those who protect.

On Earth Day, we need to start a conversation about ways to protect our planet and quality of life. Sustainable practices can create jobs, improve our communities, and protecting our Earth for generations to come.

Public education in New Jersey

The life of this post, I think, is in the comments and reactions to it, respectfully moreso than in the post. What do you think, Blue Jersey? Promoted by Rosi

Cross-Posted at VoteMarkAlexander.com

As a teacher with four children in the public schools, strengthening our schools to provide a quality education for all our children is important to me on a very personal level. In order for New Jersey to be competitive, we need strong public schools in all corners of our State.

Education is the silver bullet to so many societal ills.

My campaign for the New Jersey State Senate has attracted parents and educators who also share a commitment to our schools. Last week, Bishop Dr. Reginald T. Jackson endorsed my campaign stating: “As an educator himself and Policy Director to President Obama, I know Mark can lead the way in Trenton on education reform and so many other important issues being debated in Trenton.” And in countless meetings throughout the district – at train stations, supermarkets and while knocking on doors, one refrain is constant: parents want New Jersey schools to be the best they can be.

Education is the pathway.

When people started to speculate that Bishop Jackson’s endorsement of my campaign was all about school vouchers, it was the ugly side of politics shining through. Bishop Jackson has been an inspirational leader for all in New Jersey for decades. He is supporting me over Senator Gill because he knows we need new, independent leadership in Trenton. We need independent leadership in Trenton that will abandon the current practice of saying “No” to any new idea, and adopt as Bishop Jackson so wisely says an approach to education that is “by any means necessary” to achieve improvement.

In too many schools in the 34th District and across New Jersey students are testing below median averages in areas of language and math. There is a disturbing trend of a racial achievement gap manifesting itself. The time has come for new ideas and new energy so we can lift every school up and place them on the right track. A quality education should not be dependent on your zip code or income level.

We can do better. And we must do better.

That was my promise to Bishop Jackson: that I will work with him to make our inner city schools better. I cannot sit idly by while too many continue to fail. I will work with the New Jersey Education Association and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table, that every voice is heard, and that we reach a consensus that makes our schools better for our children. The time has come to change the status quo and to ensure that a quality education in our public schools is universal across our district. The first step on that journey comes by voting for new leadership in Trenton.

An issues-based campaign

Mark Alexander challenges Nia Gill to a series of debates. Promoted by Rosi.

Cross-posted at VoteMarkAlexander.com

I always believed in the power of normal people to make positive change through the political process. I know that our government can be a powerful force to help the most vulnerable among us, to lift up our children with quality educations, and to provide an engine that can create jobs and drive our economy. When I launched my campaign last July, I wanted to empower people, just as we did when I helped build the Obama campaign. From the ground up, one person at a time, one door at a time, one vote at a time. My campaign is about the working families in Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange.

As we come into the final two months of this campaign, I want to talk about issues that matter to me as a Democrat, and bring independent leadership to the 34th District. What families across the district don’t need is to witness another campaign where the issues that matter are pushed aside, and replaced with baseless, personal attacks that serve only to distract voters. From my days working with Senator Bradley, I always championed developing an electoral system that promoted ideas, empowered individuals, and gave the voting public the information necessary to participate in our democracy

As National Policy Director to Senator Barack Obama, I helped prepare him for twenty six debates over the course of the 2008 primaries. These debates helped voters across the country learn about the issues that mattered to our country, created a more informed electorate, and drove up turnout and excitement. It was an important exercise in democracy, and I am glad that our campaign participated in every one. We need an open dialogue on the issues that matter.

We can do that right here in the 34th District.

Every day, I am talking to normal folks at the train stations, supermarkets, and at their front doors. I am not naive to how political campaigns work, I know things are going to get heated in these last 60 days. As we get closer to Election Day, I know the pressure will ratchet up, and tensions will run high. But in the end, we must let the people decide who they want to represent them in Trenton.

With that spirit in mind, today I am asking Senator Gill to join me in a series of debates across Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange. Several organizations, including the NAACP and The League of Women Voters, already reached out to my campaign about hosting candidate forums and debates. I hope Senator Gill will join me for a total of twelve debates, three in each community, so we can give the voters in our district an accurate picture of where we stand on the issues, and why one of us should be in the State Senate come 2014.

Let’s not make this campaign about negative attacks. Let’s make it about our own vision for the future of New Jersey and the Democratic Party. I hope to work with Senator Gill’s campaign and begin the process of setting up these important forums across the 34th District. As Democrats, it is imperative that we give our shared neighbors the opportunity to see firsthand who will be representing them and how we plan to solve the problems facing working class families. Let’s make this campaign about the issues.

LD-34: Sen. Bill Bradley endorses Mark Alexander

It won’t be a surprise, given their long history, but former U.S. senator Bill Bradley is endorsing Mark Alexander in his primary race to unseat incumbent Nia Gill. Bradley:

From his time as a college intern in my Senate office, to his work as Policy Director on my 2000 presidential campaign, Mark has been a thoughtful, energized, and articulate champion of Democratic causes and progressive policies. I am endorsing his campaign in the 34th District Democratic primary because he is the type of leader we need in the New Jersey State Senate. He will advocate for working class families with a passion and energy that is desperately needed right now. On June 4th, I am encouraging Democrats in Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange to vote Mark Alexander for the New Jersey State Senate.

Bradley is a touchstone for the Democratic wing of NJ’s Democratic party who as senator led legislative initiatives to reform campaign finance regulations, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and overhaul the federal tax code. Before then, he was 3-time basketball All-American at Princeton, an Olympic gold medalist, Rhodes scholar and a New York Knick for 10 years.

Alexander claims a 3-1 fundraising advantage over Sen. Gill, raising about $150,000 thus far.  

In addition to his early work with Bradley, Alexander became a key player in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, as National Policy Director and New Jersey State Director. Alexander also served as General Counsel to Cory Booker in 2006, and as an aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He is a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Both Alexander and Sen. Gill live in Montclair.

As I’m writing this, I spot a little Princeton trivia via: @ESPNStatsInfo: On this date in 1965, Princeton’s Bill Bradley scored 58 pts in the NCAA 3rd-place game, 2nd-most points ever in the NCAA Tournament.

Early Voting for New Jersey

Today I would like to focus on one topic, expanding access for voters in New Jersey, an issue I have fought for during my career in public service.  This is of particular importance now, since the US Supreme Court is currently debating the legality of the landmark Voting Rights Act, placing over 45 years of Civil Rights progress in jeopardy.  Thanks and I looking forward to posting in the future.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stood before the country and called for voting reform. In doing so, the president spoke of the problems that plagued the nation’s voting system on Election Day 2012, including lines that snaked around the block at polling places in states like Florida, where a 102-year-old woman was told she would have to wait six hours before casting her vote.

The truth is, there are few rights that are more important than a citizen’s participation in democracy.

We witness this right in nations throughout the world where women and men proudly hold up their blue-dyed fingers to show that they have cast their ballots, and it’s demonstrated right here in the United States – and in New Jersey – where we leave the polls proudly wearing buttons on our lapels displaying the words, “I voted.”

In New Jersey, we also experienced challenges on Election Day, but ours stemmed from problems caused by a natural disaster.

Across the state – polling places were moved, and for the first time in our history a process was implemented to allow displaced voters to cast their ballots by email and fax . It is imperative that we take action to improve our voting process.

If we can travel around the world to promote democracy and the right to vote, we must be willing to invest in the infrastructure here, at home, to make sure that we have the most effective, efficient and secure voting process possible. New Jersey must take steps to expand voter access and to safeguard our election system.

That is why I am sponsoring legislation to establish statewide early voting that would give residents the ability to vote in person prior to Election Day and provide greater voter access.

Early voting would ensure that even in an emergency, such as a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, or in the case of an unforeseen personal scheduling conflict, residents will still be able to get to the polls and exercise their fundamental right to vote.

In fact, two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia offer some sort of early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mark Alexander, Nia Gill and Blue Jersey

It’s still early in the District 34 Senate primary. Calendar compels me to point that out. But it doesn’t feel early. Things are a little out-of-whack, at least as far as what goes on here at Blue Jersey.

So, take it as you will, this is a message to Senator Nia Gill. For what it’s worth. Maybe my last, at least here.

This morning Sen. Weinberg posted a brief apology for unintentionally running afoul of one of Blue Jersey’s Terms of Service; the one about calling out another diarist. We anticipate  disagreement on these pages, even when it breaks out between candidates, and we hope candidates like Alexander and the incumbent he’s running against – Gill – will write here about each other’s positions, and make their own case as best they can for the readers of Blue Jersey. [Obviously, we expect well-sourced posts that are fair, civil and informative, and we don’t anticipate flame wars].

Sen. Weinberg is a regular here; that means both that she’s one of the people we expect to be an example for the rules around here. But – it also means there’s a judgement call involved. The Staff Writer list you see to the right; everybody there pours work into this place, and treats Blue Jersey and its readership with great respect – Sen. Weinberg, included. So, the same way I might make a judgement call, so she might. If there was any apology to make about what she wrote in her Friday Open Letter to Mark Alexander, she’s now made it. Done and done.

But lost in all of this stuff that crowds my Inbox, but is of little interest to LD-34 voters, or anybody else, is this:

Sen. Weinberg’s defense of Senator Gill was spirited; Gill is a member of her Senate leadership team (Senate President Pro Tempore), and Weinberg is especially supportive of women candidates, and certainly she’s made good on the technical foul of our rules.

And Mark Alexander has been posting here for months – on campaign finance reform, Obama’s second inaugural (he has been both NJ State Director and Senior Advisor to Obama), Newtown shootings and gun control (more than once), and Bill Pascrell. In some of these, he also talks about his own campaign, effectively. And still other diaries simply chronicle a vivid campaign – ideas, announcements, pictures of him campaigning in early morning hours.

So. It’s fine for Senator Weinberg to defend a fellow Senator. And fine for Alexander to plead his case here at Blue Jersey.

But  – – – what’s missing in this equation is that we haven’t heard anything from Nia Gill. I’ve invited her too twice on BJ’s frontpage, and through Senate Dem staff. Sen. Weinberg also has. Far as I know, the Senator has never had an account here (I’m happy to help set one up). Don’t get me wrong – that’s fine. She has plenty on her plate, and plenty of outlets to talk to. She’s not required to post here, certainly, nor to defend herself from whatever Alexander might make the case he could do better. We may not be in her strategy. But by the same token, it shouldn’t stop Alexander from using Blue Jersey to convince voters why he’s the better choice for Dems in the 34th.