Candidates meet AARP in push for key senior votes

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

New Jersey’s gubernatorial candidates are keeping up a frenetic pace, holding court at various roundtables and conferences. On Friday, they spoke before a key voting bloc. Senior correspondent David Cruz was there to bring us the latest from the campaign trail.

Cruz: It was the statewide summit of the AARP and this is a key demographic for both parties because seniors vote. So today these two candidates addressed the group separately. Phil Murphy, who is 60, and Kim Guadagno, who is 58, really stuck to their main issue which is taxes and affordability.

Guadagno: Even though there are more people working in the state of New Jersey today since I took over, you don’t believe it. You don’t feel it because it is still too expensive to live in New Jersey. So in my mind, this campaign is about one issue, and that is property taxes. We are the most taxed people in this country. You all had to make a decision, and I know my family is doing the same, whether when my children get out of an excellent school system if they should move to a state where they don’t have to pay as high, fill-in-whatever-the-blank-is, but normally the blank is property taxes. So as a Republican gubernatorial candidate, I thought it was important to talk about the number one issue that I face, and the number one issue that you face, and that is how do you stay in the state so that we can raise our grandchildren in this state? How do we stay in this state if property taxes are the highest in the country when your income is flatlined?

Murphy: For too long New Jerseyans have been promised the moon and stars by any number of candidates for office, on both sides of the aisle I might add, each coming up with their own special plan for property taxes. You may have just in fact heard one before me. But I ask you this: Please take a look at your property tax bill. You’ll quickly notice the largest part of your bill goes to fund public education. In the average New Jersey community this is about 53 percent of your property tax bill. Meanwhile, under the current administration, public education has been underfunded by over $9 billion over the past eight years. That’s a huge amount of money, but it also shows an amazing break from the priorities we should have, and use to have. Funding public schools and public education isn’t just about kids’ educations, it’s also about property tax relief. Each dollar that we put back into our public schools is a dollar we don’t have to ask for from property taxpayers.

Cruz: Neither candidate stopped to speak with us, their campaigns said they have busy schedules tonight and throughout the weekend. And then next weekend it’s the debates where Kim Guadagno will have, really, her final opportunity to talk to voters statewide. She has a double-digit lead that she has to makeup, not only with seniors, but with voters at large.