Who am I?
I was born in Newark, the youngest of three sisters. I grew up in Nutley, where my father, born in Italy, worked as a butcher and my mother worked in an office and as a substitute teacher. In 1975, I graduated with a B.A. in political science from nearby Montclair State College. I then worked multiple jobs – in the Montclair Public Library, as a per diem reporter for the Star-Ledger and in the Essex County Probation Department. I attended Rutgers Law School, receiving my J.D. in 1979.
Having grown up in working class North Jersey, I understand the important role of self-reliance. But, just as importantly, I appreciate the role government can play for those trying to make a better life for their families. After graduation from law school, I served as a judicial law clerk and as a public defender for the New Jersey State Department of the Public Advocate. Following my time there, I entered private practice.
In 1992, I won a seat on the Metuchen Council, where I stabilized tax rates without lowering the quality or availability of local services. As the Metuchen Police Commissioner, I worked to increase safety in suburban neighborhoods by instituting a community policing program and actively recruited more women and minorities to the force.
First elected to the New Jersey State Senate in 2001, I was once again overwhelmingly re- elected in November 2011 – despite the race being targeted by Trenton Republicans.
I am proud to represent the 18th Legislative District – which includes East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Metuchen, South Plainfield, South River and Highland Park. Previously, I served as a member of the General Assembly for seven years after winning a special election in December 1994 and was re-elected in 1995, 1997 and 1999. In the Assembly, I became the first woman to serve as chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee in 2008 and the first woman to serve as Majority Leader in 2010. I am a founding member of the NJ Smart Growth Caucus and was appointed to the Intergovernmental Relations Commission.
Why am I running?
For the past four years, Governor Christie has failed on the issues that matter most to New Jersey. Under his watch, New Jersey's unemployment rate has remained staggeringly high, property taxes have risen, and higher education has become increasingly unattainable for families in the middle class.
In short, New Jerseyans are hurting, and Governor Christie isn't helping.
I am running for governor to bring a voice to the middle class and the working poor, who have been ignored by the current administration for far too long.
I will fight for those on Main Street, so they get the same advantages afforded the politically connected on Wall Street. I will work to lift our economy and to provide opportunity for every child of New Jersey, giving all families the chance to send their kids to college so they can compete in the global economy. I will partner our private sector with our colleges and universities, growing the skilled workforce of tomorrow. And I will make sure that Trenton is responsive to the needs of all New Jerseyans, not just those whose interests align with Governor Christie’s right-wing agenda.
My top priority as governor will be putting New Jerseyans back to work. If elected, I will restore funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit that was slashed by Governor Christie, helping more hardworking New Jerseyans support their families and move from welfare to work.
In addition, I will make sure that our schools are properly funded. I take tremendous pride in the work I did on the School Funding Reform Act, which finally began to distribute available state resources more equitably, and ensure that all children have access to a thorough and efficient education, regardless of where they live. If this formula had been properly funded by Governor Christie, it would have helped to control property taxes and provided adequate state support for public education.
My DFA Values
The values of community, security, and liberty have been at the heart of my public service and will guide my decisions as governor.
I share DFA’s belief that we must lift up the community and make sure that everyone has a chance for a future. While I served as chair of the Senate Budget committee during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, I was able to cut $4.5 billion from the state budget while preserving funding for schools and healthcare. This demonstrated how we could successfully address serious fiscal issues facing our state while preserving our commitment to future generations and ensuring the health and wellbeing of New Jersey.
In addition, I believe that New Jersey's long-term security will rely on our leaders' willingness to make investments that strengthen our economy and our environment. We must end our dependence on unclean and unsustainable energy sources that threaten our health, our economy, and our environment. That is why I championed the Global Warming Response Act, a landmark piece of legislation that set goals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Furthermore, we must safeguard the financial security of New Jersey’s working families who struggle every day to balance the competing demands of their jobs and their responsibilities to their families. Many New Jersey workers, who have little, if any, paid family leave, face painful choices between putting food on the table or caring for a sick loved one or new baby. That is why I made the right choice for working families: as a Prime Senate Sponsor, I took decisive action by advocating for the passage of an historic Paid Family Leave Act.
Finally, while I believe that government has a role to play in improving the lives of working families, there are some decisions that should be left to individuals. I reject Governor Christie's philosophy, which asserts that the state is more fit to make decisions about a woman's body than she is in consultation with her doctor, and dictates that the state may prevent loving couples from marrying simply because they share the same gender.
My Campaign is People Powered!
I'm not going to run a conventional campaign, and I won't be anointed by the political bosses. My campaign is fueled by a recognition that the only way to bring real change to Trenton is to build a grassroots organization that depends on New Jersey's families, neighborhoods, and all those who believe that a building a strong economy starts with the middle class.
We have kicked off this effort already by collecting nearly 10,000 signatures from New Jerseyans as part of my petition to run for governor. Over the course of the next few months, my campaign will roll out a field operation that will seek to engage all New Jerseyans. From Cape May to Hoboken, we will ask people in our state about the issues that matter most to them and use their input to develop policies that will lift our families by tackling our unemployment crisis, help our struggling schools, and stop the endless rise in property taxes.