12th Congressional District Candidates Debate

By Mike Schneider
Managing Editor

Raising the minimum wage was a hot topic in Princeton last night, where candidates in the 12th congressional district met for a debate.

And most made it clear they think getting to $10.10 an hour is only the beginning.

“It should be a minimum of $10.70 because that’s what it would be if it had just stayed up with inflation,” said Andrew Zwicker.

“I think a living wage in New Jersey that’s minimally $16 an hour,” said Bonnie Watson Coleman.

“$10.10 is an absolute minimum. I also believe we should move toward a living wage,” said Linda Greenstein.

“I don’t think that it really it is the job of the government to determine the wages because what happens is, jobs are lost,” said Dr. Alieta Eck.

“There’s no doubt about it, we have to raise the minimum wage and at $10 is, I don’t know if that’s enough. But I think it’s unconscionable that somebody who works full time and not able to raise a family and put food on the table,” said Upendra Chivukula.

One Republican and four Democrats, all vying to replace retiring Congressman Rush Holt. The debate was organized by the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU. I served as moderator and a question about guaranteeing a quality public school education for all children, regardless of race, got a strong reaction.

“I’m a proponent of school choice where you put the tuition in the child’s backpack and the parents and the teachers choose what’s the best school for that child. Whether in your town, outside your town,” said Eck

“Trying to have that kind of diversity really helps and we don’t want to have urban schools all minorities and suburban schools all non-minority. I don’t think we should allow that,” said Chivukula.

“We need to bring more of the money back here into the state and we need to have policies in place, whether they’re federal or state policies to encourage bringing people together. Now I’m not a supporter of vouchers,” said Greenstein.

“What we have right now is something called race to the top and this is a competition and of course, just by that very name, race it implies not everybody is going to get there. And the other question someone suggested, well if we have a race to the top and only a few of us can get there, then how can we have no child ever left behind,” said Zwicker.