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Assembly Race: Legislative District 37

Is a school funding plan the key to unseating the Democrats in the 37th?

by Colleen O’Dea, NJSpotlight.com

The Republican challengers for Assembly seats in the 37th District have pinned their hopes for unseating the incumbents on the school funding plan being pushed by one of the Senate’s most conservative members.

Gregory John Aslanian and Keith Jensen have made the Fair School Funding Act promoted by Sen. Michael Doherty the centerpiece of their campaign in this Democratic-leaning Bergen County district.

They are the underdogs in their battle against Democratic incumbent Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gordon Johnson. Two years ago, Huttle and Johnson beat their GOP opponents by 2-to-1 margins.

Further spicing up the race this year is Libertarian Julian Heicklen, who is also seeking a seat in the lower house.

The Democrats in the 37th are no friends of Gov. Chris Christie. They did not vote last June for the pension and health benefits reform program and so got the endorsements of the New Jersey Education Association, state Fraternal Order of Police, and NJ AFL-CIO.

The Republicans are not running with Christie so much as they are running with Doherty, having embraced his funding plan and making it virtually the only issue discussed on their website. Doherty’s bill seeks to amend the state constitution to provide an equal amount of school aid per student regardless of district, so the so-called Abbott low income and city districts would no longer get more aid. Aslanian and Jensen said that would bring $163 million back into the 37th District and that money could help get the economy moving.

“We have been spending a vertiable fortune on the urban schools,” Aslanian said.

Some of the $30 billion spent in the last decade in the 31 Abbott districts has built elaborate pools and ball fields, “the kind of stuff you see in Beverly Hills, that not even Alpine and the richest towns in New Jersey would do,” Aslanian added.

The current system supports bloated and sometimes corrupt school administrations, Jensen contended, saying the Fair School Funding formula could reduce property taxes in the 37th District by as much as a third.

Aslanian said Doherty’s formula would still be progressive, because wealthier communities would pay more in taxes. But it would be fairer, because those communities would get more money back from the state in aid.

“I’ve knocked on doors in this district and there are a lot of seniors on fixed incomes, poor people barely making ends meet,” he said. “I feel our money should not be traveling out of our district. “We have to have people in there looking out for their constituents,” Jensen added.

Click to read more at NJSpotlight.com


Carol Hoernlein November 08, 2011 at 01:00 AM
Mr. Jensen, there is more to governing than being a one issue candidate and throwing the words "urban schools" around like a slur. I was a councilwoman in Tenafly during the hard fought battles to rid Bergen County of corruption and there are no State Legislators more honest, and hardworking and better able to get laws passed on a RANGE of issues than the LD 37 team there right now. It takes a lot of courage to buck your own party and to fight for EVERYONE you represent once you are elected - not just folks who agree with you on only one issue. The LD 37 team has consistently been there for every citizen in every town in their district. and has passed an incredible amount of legislation helping everyone in the state. You don't consistently win over 70% of the vote by catering to a few one issue voters. You win by demonstrating broad and effective leadership - winning over Democrats, Independents, AND Republicans the way Senator Weinberg, Gordon Johnson, and Valerie Huttle have done consistently for the past 6 years.
Jack B Goode November 08, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Mrs Weinberg is the only one that bucked her party and opposed Ferriero.The corruption that you speak of was in the DEMOCRAT party. Johnson and Huttle were part of the problem in that they supported the status quo and benefited politically from Ferriero's reign, The reason they have been successful in the past is that LD37 was a Democratic stronghold for many years, People are starting to wake up and disregard party labels. The old team is out of ideas and are standing in the way of getting NJ back on its feet.We don't need any more unfunded mandates or laws that are stunting economic growth in the state.. . Also as a former elected official.do you really believe that to support lowering taxes by equal distribution of state funds is not a major issue that affects local budgets ,impacting quality of life for residents?As for leadership, have you spoken with Keith Jensen and John Aslanian? they both are bright,articulate solid citizens that created their own successful businesses. Keith is a veteran who served in a leadership role in the military and desires to give back to his community.Please consider this when voting tomorrow.
Carol Hoernlein November 08, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Dear Mr. Goode, Lying about who Huttle and Johnson supported is slander of the worst kind. http://www.bluejersey.com/diary/3975/ I was there and know firsthand that Gordon Johnson and Valerie Huttle stood shoulder to shoulder with Senator Weinberg in her fight against pay-to-play corruption. I know firsthand because I documented it every step of the way and I have proof. In fact - you can find my detailed blog diaries here: http://www.bluejersey.com/diary/17779/rabbit-season-6-years-later. Gordon Johnson and Valerie Huttle were essential to the fight Senator Weinberg waged - and won against corruption in Bergen County - which is why many Republicans as well as Independents respect all three incumbent legislators.
Carol Hoernlein November 08, 2011 at 09:36 PM
As for the simple 9-9-9 style "solution" for school funding, in Tenafly, and many other wealthy suburbs where the schools are good, the property taxes are high not because of a state legislator able to get money or not, but because of what the taxpayers want for their school. In Tenafly, council members who attempted to cut taxes by going after school budget issues were basically run out of town. Wealthy residents who can easily afford high taxes - will spare no expense on their children's schools regardless of the wishes of the less affluent families in those towns. Unfortunately, in some towns, keeping taxes high is a form of gate-keeping. Assuming that if the state gives your town more money for schools that property taxes will go down is just naive. It really depends on what the local school board decides to spend money on. The elected Governing body has to go along with it and has NO say in how two thirds of the property taxes get spent. Keith may be a nice guy, but it sounds like he should be running for the local school board - rather than for Assembly.
Jack B Goode November 08, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Ms Hoerniein,Please don't resort to name calling ,can't you discuss things rationally? Again I say the corruption you speak of is DEMOCRAT corruption. Joe Ferriero was elected chairman (first term ) by a unanimous vote of the BCDO (I was there). Johnson and Huttle did not dissent. There was no lies in my comment. when they ran ,they received and used BCDO funds for their campaign. If they stood ".shoulder to shoulder with Senator Weinberg in her fight against pay-to-play corruption" how come pay to play still exists? The Dems had complete control of the state during Codey and Corzine so why didn't your hero legislators get it done. ?


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