Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

NJ Governor

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.
  • Candidate picture

    Gina Genovese (RPT) Executive Director Courage to Connect NJ

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    Kim Guadagno (Rep) Lieutenant Governor

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    Seth Kaper-Dale (Grn) Pastor and social justice activist

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    Philip Murphy (Dem) Philanthropist

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    Matthew Riccardi (Cons) Legal Services

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    Peter J. Rohrman (L) Internet Operations

  • Vincent Ross (WTP)

Change Candidates

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.

Qualifications/Experience Former Mayor and Township Committeewoman - Long Hill Township, Executive Director and Founder of the nonprofit Courage to Connect NJ - 8 years, Small business owner at Gina's Tennis World - 34 years
54% of New Jerseyans work 8-12 weeks to pay their property taxes. No wonder this is the number one issue facing voters! I have dedicated the past ten years, as Exec. Dir. of Courage To Connect NJ, working with elected officials, school board members and taxpayers to reduce the expense of local services. We cannot reduce property taxes with lip service or by shifting the burden of who pays our taxes. New Jersey must reduce the expenses of maintaining 565 municipalities and more than 600 separate school districts through consolidation, which will eliminate redundancies, as seen in the successful merger of the Princetons and the regionalization of South Hunterdon schools. I will be a strong governor who will apply my experience and expertise to reduce property taxes by 15% - my top priority.
It is projected our first pension will be depleted by 2022. There is no single solution to this looming crisis, so I I am proposing a number of solutions:   -Tie pensions to lifetime salary, not to the last 2-3 years of employment, to reduce “pension-padding”. -Set a reasonable schedule for the state to consistently fund the pensions. -Require full retirement from the state and all other public jobs before pensions are paid and limit pensions to a single pension per employee. -Eliminate pensions for consultants, lobbyists and professional services providers. -Increase the minimum salary eligibility to $20,000. -Reassess eligibility age requirements.  -Examine pension management expenses -Examine the possibility of a hybrid retirement system that combines pensions and 401k-type accounts.
I find it appalling that we currently recycle less than 20 percent of our plastic in NJ. One of the first things I will do as governor is mandate recycling in every school district and gov't building.

We already have the laws in place to make our great state a leader in renewable energy – we just have to fund them! I want to promote legislation that enables solar panels in parking lots, rather than in open fields, and I want to begin building the infrastructure to support electric vehicles. One of my goals is to begin transitioning the state fleet to electric vehicles.

I am interested in pursuing whatever options are available that will help power New Jersey while preserving our beaches, our forests, our marshes and our mountains. I intend to keep the Garden State 'clean and green'.
I have been canvassing local businesses to find out what they need to grow and thrive. -NJ's Economic Development Authority must reassess its current priorities and devote real resources to supporting small and new businesses, including tech and web-based businesses. By redirecting state investment and incentives to small businesses, we can create new commercial activity and vibrant downtowns.   -We need to take a regional approach. I intend to work with academics, business leaders, local experts and local elected officials to develop a strategic Regional Economic Development Plan that sparks and supports redevelopment and revitalization opportunities. -I also want to invest in vocational schools to develop local manufacturing hubs and partner with businesses to create innovation labs.
1. I intend to establish a New Jersey Gubernatorial Youth Council with a direct line to my office to address their issues. 2. I would pass legislation that makes it so everyone who receives a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote (“motor-voter”). 3.  Infrastructure is the chief responsibility of the public sector. I want to address our underfunded infrastructure needs and garner federal financial support so we can upgrade our state’s water and sewage systems. I also intend to use our Transportation Fund to repair our bridges and roads and to fund improvements to NJ Transit. If we as a state are unable to address our infrastructure needs, we will have to sell these assets and privatize public services. I will do whatever it takes to avoid such a calamity for our state.  
Twitter @KimGuadagnoNJ
Qualifications/Experience Lieutenant Governor: 2010-present; First Female Monmouth County Sheriff: 2007-2009; Monmouth Beach Commissioner: 2005-2007; Assistant NJ Attorney General: 1999-2001; Federal Prosecutor: 1988-1999;
As governor, I will make lowering property taxes my number one priority. I proposed a plan called the “circuit breaker,” which will give relief to New Jersey families that are squeezed with untenable property tax payments. The concept is simple - New Jerseyans shouldn't have to pay more than 5 percent of their household income toward school taxes, the main driver of our state's high property taxes. If school taxes get too high, my "circuit breaker" kicks in and you stop paying. The credit would appear directly on your property tax bill and actually lower the amount you pay out of pocket if your school taxes exceed 5 percent of your household income. This will provide immediate relief while we implement long-term reforms to the school funding formula to lower property taxes.
The pension crisis has become a ticking time bomb and threatens to force draconian spending cuts, massive tax hikes or collapse the retirement system if New Jersey ignores the problem. At the same time, I understand that we won’t solve the problem by shouting, passing blame and calling people names because at the end of the day, it is in everyone’s interest to fix it.

I believe that the recent Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission set forth sound principles and ideas for tackling New Jersey’s pension crisis that should serve as the starting point for negotiating a solution. Solutions may include lowering healthcare costs, ending sick pay abuse, enacting a strict ‘1 public paycheck rule,’ cutting Wall Street management fees and utilizing cash balance plans to shore up the system.
As lieutenant governor, my primary area of responsibility has been to create jobs and grow the economy in New Jersey. We can and must protect our environment, meet our energy needs and create jobs at the same time. I am a strong believer in green energy and even have solar panels on my roof at home. We need to modernize our grid to make it more resilient while also increasing energy efficiency and integrating more renewables such as solar and offshore wind. That said, I am not in favor of offshore drilling and having dirty coal plants.

We should explore ways to keep safe nuclear power economically viable, and adopt an evidence-based state plan to guide the state’s future decision making on the construction of new pipelines based on need, environmental safety and economic conditions.
Over the past 8 years, I have led the state’s response to the Great Recession, helping to slash unnecessary regulations by 60%, create a public private partnership to attract businesses to New Jersey and help businesses grow to create over 300,000 new private sector jobs. Although we have made progress in creating jobs, New Jersey’s notoriously high taxes remain one of the greatest barriers to future economic development. Businesses tell me that although they want to do business in New Jersey, their employees can’t afford to live, work and raise a family here. That’s why I will be focused on making New Jersey more affordable by lowering taxes. We must also continue our efforts to cut red tape and unnecessary regulations because it has worked.
In addition to cutting property taxes and creating jobs, one of my top initiatives will be to audit Trenton to eliminate waste while improving customer service. I have also advocated that New Jersey establish an independently elected attorney general to hold the governor and legislature accountable. By allowing the voters to decide who becomes our state’s top law enforcement official, they will only be accountable to the people, not the Trenton politicians or special interests. Additionally, I will be focused on improving our state’s quality of life. To do that, services like NJTransit must be improved so people can rely on them to get to work like I did when I commuted to Newark every day for 10 years.
Qualifications/Experience In my experience as a pastor and social justice activist I have launched and administered non-profit organizations such as a the Global Grace Cafe, run by refugees, a refugee re-settlement program, an affordable housing organization which houses 120 homeless vets, women aging out of foster care, formerly incarcerated people re-entering society and others. I have initiated community based mental health programs and more. My administrative experience and commitment to justice combined with the fact I am not tied to big banks or entrenched politics makes me an excellent choice to represent the majority of NJ residents who deserve the opportunity to thrive.
My plan to begin addressing the high property taxes in New Jersey starts with Medicare for All in New Jersey. Huge portions of our property taxes go toward paying the for-profit, private health insurance industry for coverage of municipal employees. An unpublished study shared with my campaign found that breaking away from the private insurance industry can save municipalities 20% of their budgets. Driving down municipal budgets will help drive down property taxes. High quality Medicare for All, instead of private health insurance is both a moral and economic obligation owed to the people of New Jersey. I would also increase the number of income tax brackets so those making more than $500,000 a year pay a higher percentage of their income than those making less, shifting the tax burden.
The state pension system is another beneficiary from moving to Medicare for All. Currently state employee health insurance and pensions are lumped together. The cost savings from a true single-payer system for health care in New Jersey, cutting out the insurance middle-man would free up billions of dollars. New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition states this unequivocally and levels of national and New York cost savings estimates for single-payer healthcare resemble that New Jersey estimate. These savings on health care costs would allow us to fully fund the pension system. The savings from cutting insurance companies out of the equation. Rising insurance costs have been siphoning money from employee pensions. Once this is eliminated any remaining pension shortfall would be minor.
My goal is to reduce NJ’s carbon footprint by by 5% each of year of my first term as governor. Among other measures, I would put the Atlantic City wind farm project back on track, install solar energy collectors on public buildings, initiate a process to phase out gas-fueled buses for hybrid and electric vehicles to promote the private use of energy saving vehicles. I am calling for a moratorium on all pipelines threatening our communities and our environment. We will get our renewable energy progress back on track; we will oppose investing in the use of fossil fuels. To this end, I oppose fracking. While I would consider re-joining RGGI, we would have to ensure gas reduction begins in our urban neighborhoods, the areas which often suffer most from corporate polluters.
A NJ public bank would allow the state and towns to access low interest credit to re-build water and transportation infrastructure. This creates jobs. Another source of job creation is the legalization of marijuana. Unlike states which have allowed corporate control of medical and recreational marijuana, I believe NJ should partner with communities with chronic difficulties in obtaining decent jobs - inner city populations, transgender people, the formerly incarcerated and people with disabilities. My government would partner with these communities to create state-worker cooperatives for the production and distribution of marijuana as a step toward making our economy truly work for the people of our state.
Reforming our criminal justice system to eliminate racial disparity in policing and sentencing, ending mandatory minimums and starting prisoner re-entry on Day One of a prison term. The imprisoned should keep their right to vote. And prison labor must be paid decent wages!

Full funding for public education.Related to that, children must know where they’ll sleep at night. We’ll support families by expanding the Rental Assistance Program and increasing childcare and after-school programs. I would end standardized testing and seek a re-emphasis on learning in order to create well-rounded and solidarity-minded children who can build our future.

Increased funding for affordable housing while combatting apartheid neighborhoods to promote school de-segregation.
Twitter @philmurphynj
Qualifications/Experience U.S. Ambassador to Germany under President Obama; DNC Finance Chair under Howard Dean; National NAACP Board Member; Led nonprofits to help troubled teens, domestic abuse survivors, and the unemployed.
New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, thanks to years of Trenton insiders kicking the can instead of supporting real reform. This is a crisis that hits middle and working class families particularly hard. Governor Christie has underfunded schools by $8 billion and held state aid to municipalities flat. I will fully fund the school funding formula, which would decrease pressure on municipalities to raise property taxes. I will also end Governor Christie’s practice of balancing the budget by cutting rebates for seniors, low-income residents, and the disabled. And I would encourage shared services by creating a fund that would pay for towns to study options for sharing services and, should they decide to move forward, help share the cost of implementation of the agreements.
Any plan for fixing our pension system must start with the state living up to its word and making the payments into the pension system that it promised. When I chaired the first commission on pension and health benefits in 2005, I made clear that the state must meet its obligations, period. That’s what I will do as governor.

I will also divest our pension funds from hedge funds. The performance of these investments no longer justifies their exorbitant fees, which cost the pension funds hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Hedge funds have been the single-worst performing asset in our pension funds’ portfolio – last year they lost 5 percent on their investments. I will shift our pension funds’ investments to lower-cost index funds, as the state of Nevada has done.
I believe the future of New Jersey lies in our ability to do good and do well. There is perhaps no better opportunity for us to do both than by protecting our environment and growing our economy through an aggressive approach to expanding clean energy.

One of my first priorities in office will be creating a new energy master plan that sets us on the path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 by emphasizing the expansion of solar and wind energy, and energy efficiency. I intend to start this process within my first 100 days with the goal of completing it within my first year in office.

I will make decisions on proposed energy infrastructure projects, such as pipelines, in the context of this plan and I categorically oppose fracking or the storage of fracking waste anywhere in New Jersey.
Under Governor Christie, our economy has been both flat and unfair. We must grow our economy and make it fairer for everyone, not just those at the top. We can grow our economy by making the investments we need to create good-paying jobs for the 21st century. I will strengthen our infrastructure economy by investing in roads, bridges, mass transit, and clean energy – including through the creation of a public bank. And I will build an innovation economy by focusing on STEM education and funding our institutions of higher education. Lastly, I will ensure that our economy works for everyone by instituting a $15 minimum wage, guaranteeing paid sick leave statewide, expanding the earned income tax credit, creating a child and dependent care tax credit, and ensuring equal pay for equal work
Three additional priority issues for me are: voting rights, criminal justice reform, and holding Wall Street accountable. We are a better, stronger, and more representative democracy when more people participate. I will empower voters and increase participation by implementing early voting and automatic, online, and same-day voter registration. I will also build a more humane criminal justice system in New Jersey by eliminating mandatory minimums, closing private prisons, legalizing marijuana, and expanding re-entry services. Finally, I will hold Wall Street accountable by establishing a public bank to invest in Main Street, cutting hedge funds out of managing our pensions, and using DOJ settlement funds to purchase foreclosed homes and repurpose them as affordable housing.
Twitter @riccardi4nj
Qualifications/Experience United States Marine Corps Vet, Ivy League Scholar, Project Manager of humanitarian efforts Haiti Earthquake Relief, Darfur Genocide, various Cancer research & youth round-table advisor to Obama WH.
I propose the NJ Parental Rights & Property Tax Reduction Act be passed and made law in NJ. This bill would take the $10 billion allocated towards education from the state government and distribute it equitably among the school districts in our state. The $20 billion from the municipalities would no longer be needed, as costs would be cut from $22k per pupil to roughly $7k, sparing every homeowner and renter 2/3 of their property tax bill. Some of the best educations are coming from private schools charging under $6k per pupil. There is no reason why parents should be cut out of the equation when it comes to choosing the education for their kids, just as there is no reason why tax payers should pour money into a system without accountability. School choice is education equality.
I believe a promise made must be a promise kept. The only way to pay these debts is through creation of revenue. That cannot be done via taxation! Instead, I propose eliminating the Corporation Tax & implementing a Gross Profits Fee. Large corporations would finally pay their fair share instead of paying lawyers to escape loopholes. Small business tax burden would be instantly alleviated to a fraction of the current cost. As a result of eliminating loopholes & making every business or corporation pay their fair share, the state would collect roughly ten billion in revenue. In addition, we would immediately improve our nations worst business climate, inviting tens of thousands of new businesses bringing billions more in revenue paying our astronomical debts in 5-10 years.
It's only logical to want to live in a healthy clean environment. It's also fair to say that developing technology that will enhance that quality would be a high priority. That's not to say we should stop using the resources that man has today. We should use all natural resources including renewable to continue to build energy for our population. It's always in the best interest of our National Security to become independent from dependency on Nations that may not hold the same values as Americans. Oil & gas exploration through fracking has greatly reduced the costs of energy for both consumers & manufacturers. There are clear and logical solutions to protect & produce a healthy environment without reducing the benefits & jobs for working families. Invent, Innovate & Invest in NJ.
I would work with the legislature, counties, & municipalities to create incentives for business owners, such as eliminating all regulations that harm small business growth. I would work with the leaders of the inner cities to create incentives for local banks to work with residents to grant loans to start up businesses within the communities. Most importantly, I would work to remove the Corporation Tax, creating a haven for business as opposed to the current awful climate, which serves as a torture chamber for business. I would seek to influence growth within the major cities restoring them as the lifeblood of our state, inviting tourism and business, while giving residents opportunities to thrive and break the wage gap within our state.
Veteran homelessness & unemployment is a major issue in NJ. I will support non-profits building tiny homes communities while aiding Vets through state initiatives in their search for careers. Disabled Vets will receive their Compensation Percentage off their property tax. The Opiate Crisis needs to be solved through education, awareness & empathy. No more profiting off addiction or hiding the issue. We must put the best advocates in the school system to deal with traumatic abuse while educating kids on the dangers of drug use even one time. Sex trafficking is getting worse every year. It is in every community. Children are often kidnapped, drugged, severely raped & beaten & sold in plain sight on My plan is to create widespread awareness while punishing all, but the victims.
Qualifications/Experience If you see me on the street, feel free to high-5 me and call me Pete. I’m approachable. I’m open minded. I’m tolerant. I’m human. I know your struggle because I live it myself. I’m a single father of 2 teen aged boys fighting every day to make ends meet. I’m in this race to give you a real choice. I’ve spent a lifetime in service to my fellow man. I served our nation honorably through Desert Storm as a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps. I’ve served my community as a volunteer firefighter. I spent years working with the youth of Newark doing outreach educational programs. I’ve spent most of my spare time the past 20 years as a volunteer youth athletic coach. I’ve added to my public service giving the people of Bergen County an alternate choice as a candidate for Freeholder in 2015 and 2016. Running for Governor is the next step in my quest to serve you. My policies are outside the box type of thinking. This is what this state needs. We can no longer continue placing band-aides on a system that is clearly broken. We need a change. We need to try something different because the status quo isn’t. I’m here to give you fresh new ideas and stir the conversation. I ask you to elect me as Governor and my running mate Karese Laguerre as Lt. Governor.
My “Fiscal Democracy” tax plan will eliminate property tax. Yes, it is possible, and yes your local government will still be funded. The average NJ family is forced to pay approximately 30% of their income to the state, county, and municipal governments. My “Fiscal Democracy” plan will limit this to 10% and allow you, the individual, to choose which government programs your tax payments will fund. “Fiscal Democracy” will eliminate property, gas, & sales tax and other government fees. This moves the power of appropriations out of irresponsible legislators’ hands, and places that power directly into yours. YOU WILL CHOOSE WHAT TO FUND OR DE-FUND. More info:
Firstly, all the pension systems should be transfered to union control to prevent further state raids. The state is too irresponsible to handle the pension systems. The sum of 200,000+ state, county, and municipal employees plus their spouses and others interested in their retirement are all able to designate where to place their contributions under my "Fiscal Democracy" plan. That equates to $billions going into the pension system. The pension system will be solvent again under my plan. For more info:
A delicate balance needs to be struck between our energy needs and the safety of our environment. This takes more analysis than is afforded in this space. One of my primary concerns on this subject is eminent domain abuse. I am a supporter of absolute property rights. If you own the land, the government should not have the ability to forcibly remove you from it. I will always side with the land owner when issues of eminent domain arise.
We need to create an environment to bring the jobs back to this state, and my "Fiscal Democracy" plan does just that. It eliminates property tax and corporate tax. With the absence of these taxes, companies from all over the world will be moving operations back into NJ for the tax benefits. We'll be the best location in the world for companies to do business in thereby creating more jobs than we'll have people. Patterson will again be the industrial center of the world. Camden will be an optimal site for auto manufacturing. There will be so much competition for employees, that this will force these employers to increase their compensation packages = more $ for our citizens!
Your child’s education shouldn’t be dictated by your zipcode. I am advocating for voucher programs that will allow municipalities to cut their educational costs, improve their education, and give parents a choice of where their child attends school. We’ll give local school boards the power to hand parents a check for their child’s education. This could be as much as $18k per child for tuition to attend a school that best meets your child’s needs.

I intend to legalize marijuana and refuse to inhibit its accessibility with government permits or additional taxes that would force it back underground.

On Inauguration Day, I will sign a mass pardon from most of NJ’s gun laws resulting in de facto concealed carry.

Drinking, smoking, and gambling age will be reduced to 18.
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