New Jersey’s chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties held a forum for gubernatorial candidates Friday, where five candidates from both parties gave their opinions on budgetary policies, incentives and provided a brief overview of their political agendas, were they to lead Trenton next year.
“Time will determine what happens to those plans,” NAIOP NJ CEO Michael McGuiness said at the Heldrich in New Brunswick. “You’re able now to compare where they are in some of their positions, which doesn’t necessarily rule out a candidate. You can come back to the other candidates and say ‘Well, he said this, but you didn’t, so do you want to revisit that?’ So, It gives us, NAIOP, an opportunity to flesh out what we think are real practical things that could be accomplished.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerville) represented the Republican Party at the forum. Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) represented the Democrat Party.
All five candidates at the forum mentioned a need to rethink government expenditure, and emphasized a need to invest in attracting millennials and STEM-related — science, technology, mathematics and engineering — jobs to the state.
“We need to spend our money wisely,” said Guadagno. She proposed a three-point plan that included conducting a performance audit on Trenton, working alongside businesses and commercial real estate and providing tax cuts to make living and working in New Jersey affordable.
Murphy also mentioned the need to improve the economy and emphasized that it is not only beneficial for individuals, but for all.
“If we don’t get the economy right, we don’t get New Jersey right,” Murphy said. “And there are two dimensions to that. One is growing the economy, and the other is to make it fair. We have an economy right now that is flat and unfair, and we need to put policies in place that address each of those dimensions.”
Wisniewski emphasized the importance of transportation to the state, and said his goal as governor would be to further invest in the Transportation Trust Fund.
“We have to recognize one undisputable fact,” Wisniewski said. “That is, if we don’t invest in our transportation infrastructure, if we’re not making our ports more efficient, if we’re not making the roads in and out of our ports better, if we’re not making the highways better so that the trucks can travel across them, if we’re not increasing the capacity of our bridges on our rail network to take the heavier rail cars, we are putting ourselves at an economic disadvantage.”
Lesniak said the cornerstone of his campaign is the environment, job creation and wasteful government spending.
“As a state, we waste at least a billion dollars a year, probably a lot more,” said Lesniak. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars that go out the window, but never get in the classroom.”
Ciattarelli proposed a five-point plan to change the course of the state’s economy, including property tax reform. He also said he wished to balance overfunded and underfunded schools.
“No community is supposed to benefit at the expense of another one,” Ciattarelli said.