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The NJ General Election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Voters will head to the polls to select a Governor, State Senator, and State Assembly Members, as well as a number of county and local elected officials.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
  • Eveline H. Brownstein (L)

  • Mariel Didato (Dem) Project Administrator

  • Candidate picture

    Serena Dimaso (Rep) Freeholder

  • Candidate picture

    Tom Giaimo (Dem) Attorney

  • Amy Handlin (Rep)

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Biographical Information

New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. What, if anything, do you propose to lower property taxes?

New Jersey's state pension system has recently been named the worst-funded state retirement plan in the country and is arguably one of our largest financial problems. How do you propose to address our state's pension issues?

How can New Jersey meet our energy needs while protecting our environment? For example, would you support energy conservation, expansion of renewable energy projects, hydraulic fracturing, and pipelines, etc?

What would you do to promote job growth in our state?

Please indicate three additional state priority issues for you (not already listed in this questionnaire) and explain how you would address them.

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Website www.didato4njassembly.com
Qualifications/Experience Political activist for reproductive rights and gender-based violence prevention Grassroots organizer for The National Organization for Women Freelance writer
There are a number of unimplemented commonsense ways to reduce the property tax burden faced by New Jersey homeowners. Two of those are the implementation of shared service agreements and municipal consolidation activities. By reducing unnecessary and expensive government services, towns can save their residents money. I will support legislation to promote this goal.

The other important part of our property tax equation is the under-funding of our school funding formula. This puts homeowners throughout New Jersey on the hook for higher property taxes, and results in a distribution of funds that fails to meet the changing needs of districts throughout our state. The next Governor must fully fund the school funding formula.
The state is required by law to fund our public employee pension system in a timely manner. The irresponsible failure of the state to fully fund the pension system has led to insolvency and unnecessary hardships faced by our public employees.

New Jersey cannot afford to continue to kick the can on fully funding our pension system, and our state must begin to make timely and contributions into its pension system. Otherwise, our fund’s precarious financial position will continue to deteriorate, and long-term solvency will become even more difficult to achieve.
Energy and environmental sustainability are legislative goals I look forward to pursuing. When new buildings are designed, we should take into account ways to reduce the environmental impact and energy wasted. By maximizing the energy efficiency of these new structures, we can help solve part of that problem.

We must also decrease our reliance on non-renewable energy sources. While politicians in Washington do nothing to address climate change, it is up to coastal districts like ours to lead by example. I will support legislation to protect our natural resources, and promote the use of renewable energy.
I will seek out opportunities to aid small businesses by giving them the tools they need to remain competitive, while reviewing regulations which might prevent their further growth. Communities throughout our state rely on small businesses, and it is essential to the health of our communities that our small businesses prosper.

Our state is fortunate enough to have remarkable institutions of higher learning. I will work to keep those institutions strong, so that our small businesses and industries can benefit from a talented local workforce.
Opioid Epidemic: Opioid addiction is a public health emergency, and must be addressed head-on. I will support initiatives to improve our response to this crisis.

College Affordability: Many who graduate from college are trapped by their debt, and as college tuitions continue to rise, more will give up pursuing a degree altogether. I will support initiatives to make college affordable for all families.

Reproductive Health Services: When we fail to fund reproductive health services, our communities suffer. Bacterial STI transmission rates have risen by almost 50% in Monmouth County alone, which the CDC attributes directly in part to the reduction of affordable and accessible reproductive healthcare services. I will support initiatives to restore funding for reproductive health services.
Qualifications/Experience I am in my third elected term on the Freeholder Board and served as Deputy Director in 2016 2015 and 2013. Prior I served on Holmdel Township Committee for ten years, including mayor from 2006 - 2010
I hope to bring the same fiscal attitude I've held as a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Monmouth County is one of the few counties in our nation to maintain a Triple-A bond rating from all three major agencies. As liaison to the Improvement Authority I have seen municipalities and schools benefit greatly as we are able to guarantee their borrowing at a lower interest rate – with the savings passed to the taxpayer. In Monmouth County, we have kept taxes flat for the entirety of my tenure for our County residents. We have had to make tough decisions along the way. Since a big portion of our property tax bill goes to our schools, Changes need to be made to the school funding formula. We also need to look at continued ways to share services as we have done in Monmouth.
New Jersey must make its mandated payments to the pension system. Quarterly payments were a step in the right direction. Those who are retired or near retirement must be assured that a promise made is a promise kept. I also believe that all parties must come together in Trenton to see what changes are needed to make the system more solvent for future retirees. We should explore going from platinum level health benefits to gold+, and then dedicate the savings constitutionally towards making the payment. If we do not find a solution New Jersey’s credit rating will continue to suffer and our economy will continue to struggle. Again, we work very hard at the County level to retain our Triple A bond rating, I hope to bring those skills to Trenton, and perhaps increase our rating
I support energy conservation and, when it makes sense, renewable energy projects. I do not support offshore drilling because I believe in protecting our Jersey shore, which is not only a quality of life issue but an economic engine because of the tourism revenue. As Tourism liaison I know firsthand the dollars it generates to our economy. Any future power lines must be built in a way that is sustainable and does not impact the quality of life for residents. That is why I strongly oppose the Monmouth Reliability Project. I am the environmental liaison for the County, so I work diligently with our employees to ensure we deliver the message of reduce, reuse, recycle. Personally, at home I practice what I preach, I recycle and I have solar panels on my home.
We must continue to look at ways to make New Jersey more business friendly, including tax structure and cutting red tape. Since most jobs are created by small business, we need to look at assisting them. I also would work with our Community Colleges to prepare our students for the jobs of the future. There is a serious shortage of labor in some technical and skilled trade occupations. As liaison to the Workforce Development Board we continue to support innovative partnerships with the state, private sector and our community colleges to develop programs that will benefit both employers and employees. In Monmouth County we started two very successful initiatives “Made in Monmouth” and “Grown in Monmouth” - both are economic engines that can be duplicated statewide.
My top priority is to make our state more affordable. High taxes and cost of living are splitting up families as young adults and seniors move to more affordable states. As a mother of four young adults I want my children and grandchildren to be able to live and thrive in New Jersey. I believe the addiction crisis must continue to be addressed as a priority. As a First Aider in my hometown of Holmdel I have seen firsthand the tragic consequences of addiction. We must continue to make sure those that are seeking help can get the help they need and their families are supported. I would like to see a concerted effort to increase volunteerism in our state. We need to recognize individuals who have given of their time sacrificially and promote the next generation of volunteers.
Website www.giaimo4njassembly.com/
Qualifications/Experience As a junior, I studied at The Dickinson College Center for European Affairs and The John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies located in Bologna, Italy. In 1980 I graduated cum laude with a degree in political science from Dickinson. After passing the NJ and NY bar exam, I extended my judicial clerkship for another year by clerking for a New Jersey Superior Court, Monmouth County, Law Division Judge, The Honorable William T. Wichmann. Since 1986 I have successfully built and managed my own law practice located in Rumson. The firm, Giaimo & Associates, LLC focuses on representing nonprofit homeowner and condominium associations throughout the state, but primarily located in Monmouth County. For thirty years I have advocated for New Jersey homeowners at every level of government, including the federal, state, county and local governments and their various agencies and departments. I have guided and worked alongside of elected boards of trustees who are responsible for the administration, management, governance and the day-to-day affairs of their constituent homeowners. I believe in the power and importance of community volunteering. I served as President for two years of the Holy Cross Booster Club and I coached the Holy Cross 4th and 5th grade basketball team. For many years I was a little league baseball coach having coached all three of my children. For the past six years I have been the “DJ” at the Rumson Fair Haven High School Boys Varsity basketball games.
Shared services and municipal consolidation activities will help to drive some municipal costs down. When municipalities pursue shared services, they can significantly drive property taxes down by reducing overhead costs. If I serve in Trenton I will work with legislators from any party to promote shared services and municipal consolidation.

This is only part of our property tax problem. Another factor we cannot overlook is the underfunding of our school funding formula. This results in regular property tax increases for homeowners throughout New Jersey, and a distribution of funds which does not meet the needs of students in school districts throughout the state. I believe our next Governor is obligated to make sure our formula-specified funding obligations are met.
New Jersey’s laws obligate the state to make regular and timely contributions to fund public employee pensions. The failure of our state to do this has resulted in the long-term insolvency of its pension fund, and harm to the public employees who rely on those pensions.

As the son of a retired public school teacher, this issue is one which is personal to me. The broken promises and kick-the-can attitude must stop, and our state must make timely contributions into its pension system to restore it to a sound financial footing.
Energy efficiency, and sustainability should be the new standard in home construction. I will support updating our building codes to reflect these goals. In this way we can ensure that new construction is built for the future and, as our older housing stock is gradually improved upon, we can reach real energy efficiency milestones. I also believe we should take opportunities, as they present themselves, to move our energy grid away from non-renewable resources whenever possible. Districts like ours will continue to bear the brunt of climate change while Washington DC continues to pass the buck to our children’s generation. I intend to lead by example, and support legislation which will leave a sustainable New Jersey for my grandchildren.
As a small business owner, I know that small businesses are the economic engine of our state. However, they are only as good as the people who run them and the people who they hire. To keep a ready supply of skilled labor, I will work to ensure that higher education is something that children from all New Jersey families can access.

I also understand that many small businesses are faced with burdensome regulations. I look forward to working with the small business community to review regulations, and to working to find ways to give small businesses the ability to compete.
1) Opioid Epidemic: Opioid and other addictions are a public health emergency that we cannot afford to ignore. I will work with legislators, doctors, and other stakeholders to make sure New Jersey responds appropriately. 2) Equal Pay for Equal Work: The gender-wage gap is real, and families suffer as a result. I will support legislation to reduce and eventually close the gender-wage gap. 3) College Affordability: My college education, and my legal education, were what enabled me to find the success I enjoy today. I believe it is critical, viable and sustainable to preserve that upward social mobility for the children of every family.
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