by E.J. Greenblat)
AN EYE ON TRENTON: U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ),
a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, spoke Sunday at the Princeton
Community Democratic Organization's "Candidates' Night" at the
Suzanne Patterson Center in Princeton Borough. Mr. Corzine addressed
issues ranging from health care and education to the environment.
Event Features Corzine, Candidates Endorsed
In one of his most recent stops on a statewide campaign
for the executive office, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and
U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) appeared at a local democratic event
Sunday night to deliver the key points in his campaign as he looks
toward the November election. Talking on a broad range of issues
at the Princeton Community Democratic Organization's "Candidates'
Night" at the Suzanne Patterson Center, Mr. Corzine said
his aim would be to end the long line of corruption in state politics
and the practice of "pay-to-play."
The event gave
Mr. Corzine an opportunity to expand on his platform, as well
as stumping for candidates of the 15th Assembly District, Mercer
County Sheriff, Mercer County Freeholder, and for candidates of
the Democratic State Committee. Mr. Corzine, who gave a broad
overview of his stance on the issues in an unscripted 15-minute
presentation, said that while he is happy with his accomplishments
in the U.S. Senate, he would rather work out of Trenton than Washington
"I really do think we can make a difference in
how the world is going to work for eight-and-a-half million New
Jerseyans," he said. "I care deeply about this opportunity,
but if we don't do the work, we won't get the results." In
addressing the state's current financial crisis, Mr. Corzine underlined
the need to create the post of an elected state comptroller to
audit government accounts and to certify expenditures.
wouldn't run Goldman Sachs without an independent audit, I can
assure you," he said, referring to his position as co-chairman
and chief executive officer of the investment company Goldman
Sachs prior to being elected to the Senate in November 2000. Having
a comptroller, Mr. Corzine said, would lessen the power currently
held by the state executive office.
"I don't understand
how we can have all the power wrapped up in one office
[former Chicago Mayor Richard] Daly may have liked it, but I don't,"
If elected governor, Mr. Corzine would relinquish
his post as Senator after completing only four years of his six-year
term. Of his unfinished business in the Senate, he said he would
want to address the Bush administration's aim to overhaul Social
Security retirement by diverting some payroll taxes into private
investment accounts. Mr. Bush has said that this will lift financial
burdens as more members of the Baby Boom generation begin to retire.
not refuting the notion that funds for Social Security will eventually
dry up, Mr. Corzine did not agree with Mr. Bush's handling of
that potential crisis.
"There is a problem," he
said, acknowledging that full guaranteed benefits would not be
available in 75 years while adding that "it's flat-out wrong
for the President to say [Social Security] is bankrupt, and it's
flat-out wrong to say that there's a crisis. The one thing I want
to do before I get out of [Senate] office, is to make sure that
we don't tear apart Social Security. This is a contract, an insurance
policy for all of us for everything that goes on in life, and
it's not just for retirees, it's for the disabled, surviving spouses
and children, and people who lose loved ones." In the face
of rising insurance rates, Mr. Corzine said he believes the government
could be "doing a better job" in negotiating with the
As many members of both factions of
the state legislature look to see how property taxes can somehow
be capped, Mr. Corzine called reliance on that revenue as "regressive,"
suggesting that the tax could be revised "somehow, someway."
But he did say that if there were to be ceilings placed on property
taxes, revenue would have to be found in other places.
don't want people to think this is a free lunch; it's not like
we can do that and say we're not going to have a quality health
care system, or a quality education system." While Mr. Corzine
said he was "not prepared" to say where the additional
revenue would come from, he said it could start with more "controlled
Reed Gusciora, who is running for his sixth
term in the state's 15th Assembly District, said that "too
many seniors and too many young people are frozen out of property
ownership" due to rising levels in property taxes.
state legislature is now considering holding a constitutional
convention to look at the way the state acquires its money. Currently,
New Jersey and Connecticut have the highest dependency on property
tax for funding municipal and school services in the country.
The legislature has the opportunity to put a question on the November
ballot that would allow the state to move forward with a constitutional
Mr. Gusciora lauded the efforts put forth in
taking legislative action against certain historic properties
requesting tax exemption. He and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
(D-Mercer) who is also up for re-election, introduced legislation
saying that historical landmarks seeking property tax exemption
would need to open their doors to the public no less than 90 days
a year. The bill stemmed from a tax-exemption effort by the eating
club, the Cottage Club, which currently pays Princeton Borough
$59,000 per year in property taxes. The assemblyman also said
he would look to address gang violence in his next term by creating
more opportunities for youths who are susceptible to becoming
involved in gang activity. Ms. Watson Coleman said one of her
aims if elected to a fifth term would be toward affordable housing.
"We're trying to fight our way to ensure that the most vulnerable
are taken care of." She also worried about New Jersey's "tremendous
vulnerability" in terms of homeland security: "New Jersey
has to figure out how additional security can be found."
addition to Mr. Corzine, Mr. Gusciora, and Ms. Watson Coleman,
the PCDO endorsed Kevin Larkin for Mercer County Sheriff, Lucy
Walter and Tony Mack for Mercer County Freeholder, and Gil Lugossy,
Andrew Koontz, Manuel Segura, Marge Caldwell Wilson, and Linda
Reith for the Democratic State Committee.