Hurricane Sandy is at the forefront of New Jersey residents’ minds and many are preparing for the worst. Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that those living in his district and elsewhere will likely spend their weekend preparing for possible flooding. The New Jersey Democratic State Committee chairman also discussed subpoenas sent to Port Authority officials and the race for mayor in Perth Amboy.
Wisniewski said he has heard the storm is very serious. “It’s essentially two weather systems coming together and really adding a lot of power, a lot of wind, a lot of rain,” he said. He added that his district is like many others throughout the state with low lying areas that could get flooded.
“A lot of families are going to get inundated and I would imagine in my district and elsewhere in the state are going to spend Friday and Saturday and Sunday moving stuff out of the basement, moving up out of harm’s way, but it still results in a lot of devastation, a lot of costs for a lot of people,” Wisniewski said.
Repairs from past storm damage has not even been complete in some areas, Wisniewski said. “They just barely get done replacing their furnace and their boilers and all that stuff and it comes again. For them it’s very frustrating,” he said.
While some have criticized Gov. Chris Christie for being out of state campaigning during the storm’s approach, Wisniewski said it’s a coincidence that he’s away right now. He doesn’t believe Christie should be so preoccupied with campaigning, however, that he doesn’t ensure New Jersey is ready.
“He ought to make sure that New Jersey is protected, ought to make sure the National Guard is ready, ought to make sure that all emergency preparedness is placed on alert because this seems to be a very bad storm,” Wisniewski said. “We’re going to need all of the government resources that we can bring to bear to make sure that the people of the state are safe.”
The Assembly issued subpoenas to four top ranking Port Authority officials to get documents about the toll increase. Wisniewski said members of the Port Authority had multiple chances to hand over the documents but they didn’t comply.
“At a certain point in time, the business of the Transportation Committee to provide the oversight to this agency has to be carried out,” Wisniewski said. “Without these documents, it’s almost impossible for the committee to make any qualitative judgements as to how this agency should be reformed.”
Wisniewski said he believes the Assembly has the authority to enforce the subpoenas, otherwise they wouldn’t have been issued. He said his hope is that the representatives will comply. When asked what would happen if they didn’t, Wisniewski said, “Well, we’ll cross that toll bridge when we get to it.”
The race for U.S. Senate between Joe Kyrillos and Bob Menendez has politicians taking sides. Sen. Tom Kean called Menendenz a political hack, but Wisniewski said that’s not true and that Menendez has worked very hard for the people of New Jersey.
“Here’s a young man who came from just average circumstances is now one of 100 United States senators. He’s anything but a hack,” Wisniewski said. “He’s a hard working U.S. senator who has worked hard to represent the people of this state adequately.”
Wisniewski doesn’t believe the actions of the advisor should cloud Delgado. “Every campaign has campaign consultants. Some are better than others. My view of this race is that Perth Amboy needs dynamic leadership. Billy Delgado will provide it,” he said. “And Billy’s got his new campaign team and the campaign’s moving forward.”
The assemblyman said Delgado will make an excellent mayor for the city. “I think the current mayor, Mayor Diaz, has had her shot. She hasn’t been able to perform, hasn’t been able to move the city forward,” Wisniewski said. “I think it’s time for the city to have new leadership.”