On Monday, The Jewish Standard e-mailed the legislative candidates in districts within its readership area – the 36th 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th districts – posing a series of questions that, in the opinion of the editorial staff (with input from communal professionals working in the field), were of greatest interest to Jewish voters.
With one week to go before the election, it was reasoned, the candidates would have fully formed opinions on each issue raised.
We did not count on the very damaging early fall snowstorm that left so many people without power for so long. As a result, sime candidates did not even receive the questions in time and of those who did, many had difficulty responding before our deadline. Some candidates chose not to respond altogether.
In an effort to be fair to all of the candidates, we have chosen not to publish any responses in the print edition. Instead, we established a special website for this coverage, www.jstandardelect.wordpress.com. We urge our readers to visit that page and view the responses relevant to them. We also urge readers to visit the websites of individual candidates.
While we edited the responses to fit the available space, we made every effort not to distort a candidate’s views. In essence, then, these are their own words.
A caveat: Because of redistricting, incumbents running for re-election in a given area may be newcomers to that area.
1. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing your district – and the state of New Jersey – right now?
2. In light of ongoing budget-cutting, what programs would you be willing to cut or, alternatively, what programs must be maintained?
3. What is your position on giving parents vouchers to be used at a school of their choice? Also on the topic of education, do you support the creation of charter schools?
4. Do you believe that religious institutions should remain tax exempt in this time of economic austerity?
5. What steps can be taken to deal humanely with undocumented immigrants?
6. What will you do to improve the quality of life for the growing number of older adults in our state? In this regard, what is your position on the creation of NORCs and on the critical issue of senior transportation?
7. In light of continuing budget cuts, and the increased need for services by nonprofit and charitable social service providers, what are your thoughts about the state finding an effective way to work in partnership with nonprofits to make them stronger?
8. As regards the above, do you support the incentive for charitable giving proposed in prior legislative sessions?
9. How would you address the area of special needs, given the current funding cuts? (Specific issues include early intervention, insufficient school age testing, funding for nonpublic special education schools, and housing for the developmentally disabled.)
10. How can the state best assure that the burden of the budget does not fall the heaviest on those program that serve people most in need and most vulnerable?
11. In this regard, what is your position on the closing of women’s health centers that offer a range of reproductive as well as wellness services?
12. What is your view on non-public school support? Allocations for technology in these institutions have been eliminated, but other areas, such as transportation, are vulnerable to cuts as well. Would you maintain, increase, or cut these allocations?