Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New Jersey Governor's Race -- Government Reform Proposals

With one exception, all of the Republican candidates for governor advocate some form of change to the structure of the government. Here are the positions gleaned from their web sites:

Paul DiGaetano wants to create an Elected Lt Gov. A NJN Video on his web site quotes him describing the Lt Gov role, but his statement doesn’t sound like a strong endorsement of the change. At another point, he says he wants to

  • Stop pay to play culture in Trenton,
  • Prohibit nepotism in public hiring,
  • Require greater disclosure for contributions

Doug Forrester also wants an elected Lt Gov. He would end dual-office holding, eliminate no-bid contracts, and create an independently elected Auditor General. One of his key themes is a desire to “end the culture of corruption in Trenton by demanding that elected officials represent the public’s interest and not their own.”

Steve Lonegan didn’t have any specific changes to government structure on his web site. In an email, I asked him what his thoughts were on the Lt. Gov position advocated by others. Mr. Lonegan responded within minutes of my query. Via email: “I am totally opposed to the idea of a Lt. Governor. I support no new big government layers.

This level of responsiveness and open dialog is refreshing.

John Murphy wants an elected Auditor General and Attorney General. He calls for full disclosure of government activities, and would require his administration members to testify under oath before legislative committees. He also wants to form an Independent Ethics Commission, and has a plan for Campaign Finance Reform. Details are available here. Overall this looks like a very ambitious agenda for reform.

Bob Schroeder doesn’t have a position stated on changing elected offices, but does call for a limit of one elected office at a time. He would prohibit “revolving door” lobbying by former state employees, and would ban political contributions by state/local contractors.

I emailed him through his web site about the Lt. Gov question, but have not yet heard back.

Bret Schundler’s key government reform policy is to close pay-to-play loopholes. He highlights the problem with the Petty’s Island issue in Pennsauken.

Schundler’s strategy is to focus on “one big thing” this time around, and government reform isn’t it.

Overall, I found this exercise to be rather enlightening. Ending corruption and fixing pay-to-play seem to be common ground for all of the candidates, though Steve Lonegan separates himself from the pack through his strong opposition to an elected Lt. Governor and his rapid communication.

As with my other posts, I will be happy to correct any misperceptions gained from reading the candidates' web sites.

Next up: Education.