By Michael Hill
The American Planning Association’s New Jersey chapter says it’s looking for leadership in the state’s next governor — one who will create a state plan to deal with affordable housing and funding for infrastructure, just to name a couple.
“Basically the leadership on these issues at the state level has not been there for well over a decade and in the meantime our state has wasted opportunity, wasted money and wasted time,” said Charles Latini, president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Planning Association.
The association invited three of the declared candidates for governor. Assemblyman Jack Cittarelli withdrew citing his ongoing cancer treatment. But Assemblyman John Wisniewski and former Ambassador Phil Murphy criticized the lack of a new state plan in 15 years.
“We’ve been flying blind with no set destination,” Murphy said.
“For 21 years as an assemblyman I’ve stood up in Trenton against the backroom deals and transactional politics that plague us to this day,” Wisniewski said.
Both Wisniewski and Murphy offered visions for making the state more affordable by raising the minimum wage and helping communities convert vacant, foreclosed properties to habitable homes. Murphy touted and listed the benefits of a public bank and said it was time to rethink offering companies tax incentives.
“We must reject the myth that the only thing governments can do to attract and keep companies is to get into bidding wars of tax incentives,” Murphy said.
Wisniewski said climate change is real and New Jersey used to be a leader in addressing it.
“We were number two because we had a forward thinking administration that put money aside that helped underwrite the cost of that. This administration has cannibalized that money year after year to balance the budget,” Wisniewski said.
Murphy never mentioned any opponent by name and his jabs at the assemblyman seemed subtle. Whereas the assemblyman made it clear who he’s really up against in the June primary.
“We need leadership that focuses on our people, not on the insiders looking for their next payday. We need a leader who will make decisions at every turn based on what’s best for the next generation in the state, and not what’s best for his next election,” Murphy said.
“When Jon Corzine became governor of New Jersey, he ran as an outsider who was going to come in and clean things up. And when Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey he ran as an outsider who was going to come in and clean things up. New Jersey has been governed for the past 12 years by an outsider coming in to clean things up. I have to ask you: how well is that going?” Wisniewski asked.
The gubernatorial primary is June 6.