By David Cruz
This 101st edition of the annual League of Municipalities conference looks like all of those that preceded it, with conventioneers toting swag bags, perusing exhibits and even attending a few of the conference sessions. But underneath the congenial conventioneering there is a sense of unease.
“There’s still a lot of people who are shell shocked by the results of the national election,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.
“It’s completely bizarre what happened last Tuesday. I can’t stop watching the news. I never expected in my life to hear the title President Trump. To me, it’s scary,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.
But at least one man who’s been a CEO of a state thinks the Trump concerns might be a little overblown.
“I don’t think it’s as bad as people think it’s going to be. The fact of the matter is he’s not a zealot; he’s not an ideological person. He’s an opportunist; he’s a pragmatic opportunist. He’s been for abortion and against abortion. He’s been for gun control and against gun control. If next year vegetarianism is in, he’ll be a vegeterian. The interesting thing will be how long it takes for the really strong, right wing people and him to have a falling out because he’s a deal maker and a lot of those people don’t make deals,” said former Gov. Jim Florio.
In fact, some in New Jersey think Trump might just be on the same page with them in at least one area.
“I’m rooting for him on his transportation request, the $1 trillion. I know President Obama tried to do that for eight years and the Republican-led Congress blocked it. You know, maybe he’ll be more lucky with it,” Sweeney said.
“Plants, businesses, manufacturing. If you take Donald Trump at his word, all of that is something that New Jersey has lost over the years, so if you can actually increase jobs in New Jersey, that’s good for everybody — blue, red, green, orange, whatever,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick.
“They’ve been talking about infrastructure. We just did that in the state of New Jersey, so I got a feeling we need to move the country forward,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
But, there are party primaries for governor coming in just seven months, and someone new will have been elected to the seat this time next year. The former governor had a message for all of them today.
“Resolving the problems is not going to be easy for anybody. Whoever comes into office next time around is going to have their hands full so I think it’s important for all of us to understand the dimensions of the problem,” Florio said.
With any luck the conference will help facilitate some of that before the campaigns cause all sides to put up their dukes once again.