Tag Archive: Mount Laurel Decision

LD-7 Candidates’ Debate

On the surface, last night’s debate among the candidates in the 7th Legislative District looked like an exercise in kumbaya. Each of the six candidates stressed their bipartisanship, their desire to control taxes, and their support for marriage equality. The Republicans noted areas where they differ from the Governor while the Democrats stressed areas where they have cooperated with him.

While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the District, party affiliation is not an overriding factor among those voters. Incumbents Senator Diane Allen (Republican) and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (Democrat) are both very popular among voters of both parties. The other incumbent, first term Assemblyman Troy Singleton, is not as well known but is no stranger to the machinations of State House politics, having been Chief of Staff to former Speaker Joe Roberts. Singleton has worked hard during his term to gain the name recognition that Allen and Conaway have garnered over the years.

The challengers in the debate were all well prepared. Democrat Gary Catrambone, a small businessman is facing an uphill battle to unseat Allen, a former television reporter. The Republican Assembly challengers are Anthony Ogazalek, a lawyer, and Jeff Banasz, an Iraq combat veteran who now is an insurance broker.

Conaway and Singleton leveraged their Trenton experience by answering questions with specific initiatives in which they were involved. While Conaway’s tenure offered him a longer history of accomplishments (including chairmanship of the Health Committee), Singleton’s one term (actually a bit longer, as he was appointed to complete the last few months of Jack Conners’ term when Conners resigned from the Assembly) reflects his rapid rise in the Democratic hierarchy. The freshman assemblyman leveraged his membership on the powerful Budget Committee, and advanced dozens of bills, several of which have been signed by the Governor.

Blue Jersey Focus – Adam Gordon on Affordable Housing

Recently, Governor Christie decided to re-appropriate funds for affordable housing to the general fund in order to help balance the budget and justify tax breaks for the wealthy. Along with the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the Fair Share Housing Center took the administration to court and won a partial victory. Before the governor can steal the funds from the municipalities, the court ordered that an appeals process needed to be followed.

It’s a complex issue, and to better understand it, I visited Fair Share Housing Center Staff Attorney (and Blue Jersey writer) Adam Gordon in his Cherry Hill office to help sort things out.

Blue Jersey Focus – Senator Barbara Buono

I met with Senator Barbara Buono in Edison yesterday to discuss some current issues. In this interview she talks about (among other things) “The Ghost Entity”, why the two weeks after the November election are extremely important, why it’s taking so long to implement a law that helps sick people, the governor’s destruction of the integrity of our judicial system, and of course property taxes. She even lauds a Republican New Jersey governor (not the current one!)

COAH eases rules with amendments

Trying to find a happy medium for everyone from environmentalists, to builders and municipalities, the Council on Affordable Housing adopted some new rules and amendments yesterday in an attempt to ease the burden:

Under the rules, one-fifth of new development would be set aside as affordable housing.

The amendments approved by COAH yesterday would relax the one-in-five requirement under certain circumstances, taking into account the amount of environmentally sensitive land and vacant land within municipalities.

Still, COAH and the Highlands Council have yet to reach a formal agreement about how to reconcile their mandates, with the council dedicated to restraining development and COAH devoted to ensuring that every municipality build its share of affordable housing.

The Council also took aim at another regulation that has come under scrutiny:

The Council on Affordable Housing proposed an exemption for homeowners rebuilding their homes due to fires, floods or natural disasters. The change is a response to outrage over regulations approved June 2 that consider a burned-down home a demolition that, if rebuilt, would trigger a fee paid to the agency.

These are just the latest steps in what is a very long process.  We still have to see what happens when it goes through the courts.  Stay tuned.