Tag Archive: Charlotte Vandervalk

Bill to Decriminalize small amounts of Marijuana garners 18 co-sponsors.

22,439 people were arrested in New Jersey for possessing less than 50 grams* of cannabis in 2009.

FreedomIsGreen.Com, a local blog devoted to advancing more enlightened cannabis policy in New Jersey is reporting an an intriguing new bill on the Assembly docket that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Garden State.

The bill, which already has 18 co-sponsors (5 from the GOP) was introduced by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), the same bi-partisan duo that introduced the state’s nascent medical marijuana law.

Medical Marijuana in NJ. A roll call.

Below is an alphabetical list of NJ pols who voted YES on medical marijuana. If you know — or are rep’d by — anyone on this list, take note. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to thank them one day.

From the Senate (Republicans in bold):


Van Drew,
Weinberg, and

And the Assembly:

Barnes, III
Vainieri Huttle,
Watson Coleman, and

Medical Marijuana in New Jersey. Finally.

When the NJ Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana bill yesterday it put the Garden State in line to be the 14th state in the union to decriminalize cannabis for sick people.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll has the QOTD in this one for sure.

I’ve posted so many videos on this site and elsewhere I can’t hardly remember them all, but this issue is possibly the most satisfying day I’ve has as an activist since the Obama/Alder double victory.  

So take a minute to meet the heros of this battle.  

McCarthy and Shahdanian for District 39

It’s rewarding to see such fighting attitude emerge in the state races inside the Congressional District represented by the backwards-leaning Rep. Scott Garrett. It’s great to watch that infrastructure getting built – – promoted from the diaries by Rosi Efthim

Cross-posted from RetireGarrett.com

Full Disclosure: I was just hired as a Field Organizer for Jon Corzine’s Coordinated Campaign in Bergen County, which supports John Shahdanian and Mike McCarthy for Assembly in the 39th District.

New Jersey’s 39th District Assembly races (which include these Bergen County towns) are typically blowouts. Republicans have held the district’s two Assembly seats since 1977 despite Democrats’ success in the rest of Bergen County. 2009 is going to be different though – Republican incumbent Charlotte Vandervalk and first-time candidate Robert Schroeder are being challenged by upstart Democrats John Shahdanian and Michael McCarthy.

Vandervalk: School construction funding = pork

Joe Donahue/Star Ledger:

Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Bergen) added that even as Democrats boast that they have ended so-called “Christmas Tree” spending in their legislative districts, they are using the multi-billion-dollar school construction bill to try to buy legislative votes for the new budget.”

The pork has gone from several hundred million to $3.9 billion,” she said.

The NJ-39 Series: Show Some “Love” to Dispel Some Hate

Up until now, I haven’t made any financial pleas for New Jersey’s 39th Legislative District. This is because I feel as if “getting the word out” about the district, its out-of-touch Republican incumbents (Gerry Cardinale, John Rooney and Charlotte Vandervalk) and the Democrats taking them on (Joe Ariyan, Esther Fletcher and Carl Manna) was more important. In fact, it still is, because turning NJ-39 blue – with your help – will not only be a tremendous victory for New Jersey and its Democratic Party, but will serve as a textbook example of how to turn the suburbs and exurbs of America Democratic as well. I’m working hard to turn State Senator Cardinale and his Assembly running mates out of office – and now I need your help.


Meet NJ-39: A Microcosm of a Nation Turning Blue

By Stephen Yellin

This diary is an introduction to what I believe will be one of the most exciting races to watch in 2007 – and a race that is a microcosm of the United States at large. New Jersey’s 39th Legislative District is worth watching for three reasons:

1. The changing dynamics of the suburbs of America – both in New Jersey and across the country. A victory in NJ-39 would serve as a template for races across America.

2. Clearing obstructionist, out-of-touch Republicans out of office, in order to better present a progressive agenda for New Jersey. After all, would you want a State Senator who opposes a woman’s right to choose – even for rape and incest? Or a State Assemblyman who bullies his constituents?  Again, this would serve as a template for both state and Congressional races all over this country.

3. A Democratic ticket that represents a microcosm of the suburbs – a young, driven attorney for State Senate, a teacher and community activist for one Assembly seat, and a Wall Street manager and business leader for the other. Joe Ariyan, Esther Fletcher and Carl Manna represent an impressive coalition of the Democratic Party’s membership and values.

Vandervalk: Wrong for New Jersey Workers, Wrong for the 39th

When the state’s AFL-CIO released their endorsements (http://www.bergenclc…) for the 2007 legislative races, labor supporting progressives across the state scratched their heads as to why Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk was on the list.  Her record on labor issues, to be kind, is abysmal.

For years, Vandervalk has failed to support even the simplest pro-labor measures.  And on the most issues most important to our state’s working families – such as allowing employees to unionize easily via “card check” recognition – Vandervalk has stood in opposition to labor. 

But it doesn’t begin and end with card check.  On fair wage legislation, job creation, and unemployment benefits, Vandervalk has continually voted against the interests of organized labor. For instance, in 2005, she opposed a measure to raise the minimum wage by $2 despite the fact that it would have helped nearly 130,000 (http://www.cbpp.org/…) New Jersey workers.

How Vandervalk receives support from the AFL-CIO in New Jersey given her opposition to working family issues is a mystery to me.  The Democratic Assembly challengers in the thirty-ninth, Esther Fletcher and Carl Manna, will be strong voices for worker’s rights in Trenton, never jeopardizing their livelihood by opposing basic protections and support for those who make New Jersey work.

People Starting to Notice the 39th

PoliticsNJ has written an article about the race in the 39th District and how Joe Ariyan, Esther Fletcher, and Carl Manna are starting to pose a real threat. Among their reasons for running is the fact that they believe Cardinale and team are out of touch and that they better represent the district. For example Cardinale tends to spend “too much time on pet causes that would play better in the Deep South, issues like second amendment rights, gay marriage and opposition to stem cell research.”

All of these stances are out of touch with a growing number of residents in the 39th district. Also, Fletcher points out “the representatives lack of direct involvement in the community. She pointed to an instance when she was at an Eagle Scout meeting at the same time as Assemblyman Rooney, and some of the people present didn’t know who he was.” Ariyan, Fletcher, and Manna promise to be more involved with the community and more up to date with their constituents stances and problems.

Flipping the 39th

While a handful of other districts have been discussed here at Blue Jersey as opportunities for Democratic gain, I’d like to throw the 39th into the mix.  The 39th, much like the rest of Bergen County (as well as the state), is trending Democratic. Over the last 10 years, Democrats have reshaped Bergen County, flipping more than 23 towns from red to blue.  A decade ago, Republicans dominated 67% of the county.  But as of the beginning of this year, Democrats controlled 56% of the county to the GOP’s 43%.

And even though the 39th is still represented in the legislature by fairly radical Republicans, the district has been home to some exciting and substantial accomplishments. Democrats recently ousted Assemblyman John Rooney as Northvale’s Mayor, making the municipality the seventh town in the district to go Democratic.  And three of the seven current Bergen County Freeholders are also from the district.

With such a strong trend on our side, Democrats have launched a serious campaign against long time GOP incumbents Gerald Cardinale, John Rooney and Charlotte Vandervalk.  Their Democratic challengers, Senate candidate Joseph Ariyan and Assembly candidates Esther Fletcher, a River Edge Councilwoman, and Carl Manna, a Dumont Councilman, formal kicked off their campaigns last Saturday in Dumont, the district’s largest town.  An exciting sign of things to come, the event was one of the largest gatherings of Democrats the district has seen in years.

Ariyan is currently the Public Advocate for Land Use in Bergen County. Last year, he helped block a truck stop expansion on Route 17 that would have increased traffic, noise and pollution for many of the towns in the 39th and 40th districts. He is also a partner at the law firm Ariyan, Khoury & Schildiner.

Fletcher has worked in the districts schools for more than a decade first as a Spanish teacher and now as a substitute teacher. She is a councilwoman in River Edge where she has fought to increase safety, as the liaison to the Police Department as well as on the Traffic and Safety Committee. She also successfully secured more than $50,000 through the state’s Smart Growth Grant program to offset the cost of property taxes for residents.

Manna recently retired from the New York Stock Exchange. He has been a resident of Dumont for 30 years and currently serves as councilman for the Borough. While on the council, Manna has spent much of his time focused on easing the burden on Dumont taxpayers by finding ways to share services with neighboring towns. 

The 39th district is the next front in the battle for Bergen County.  Bergen GOP Chairman Guy Talarico has admitted to party insiders that he’s fearful of a Cardinale loss, pointing to the commitment local Democrats have shown to flipping the district.  And Rooney himself has pointed out that many “perceive [him] as a weak candidate.”

Recent victories, the outlandish positions of the incumbents on a variety of social issues and the lack of return the district receives from Trenton for all its tax dollars paid to the state illustrates that the right foundation is in place for Democrats to pick up a seat.

This won’t be an easy race, like most it will be expensive, will rely on word of mouth to increase name recognition and getting out the vote.  Much like Tom Kean Jr and Doug Forrester before him, Cardinale has the ability – and as shown in past races, the willingness – to self-fund his own campaign as well as the campaigns of his running mates.  But our candidates have already begun raising money.  State Senate candidate Joseph Ariyan just last week reported having raised more than $130,000 to date.  And we’re aggressively pursuing small dollar donations as well – our kick-off event was a $25/per person fundraiser for the district committee that raised an impressive amount from residents of the district looking for change.

This campaign is going to rely on the type of strong, grassroots effort we’ve seen succeed for Democrats recently in places like Morris Township and Evesham.  That means it’s going to rely on you.  So if you’d like to be a part of this exciting race, volunteering your time or resources, please send us an e-mail or post a comment below.