Mark Caliguire (R) Candidate for State Assembly
Q: Why are you running?
“NJ is on the wrong track. We’re accelerating towards becoming more like California. Anybody who reads the news realizes that’s not something we want to do. NJ is last in economic growth in the lower 48 states at a time when the economy, nationally, has been strong. That’s a significant concern.”
Q: Can NJ Transit be fixed?
“NJ Transit has been a place for patronage, and that’s insane. Given the number of people in NJ who depend on mass transit, it should be a first-class operation. A series of governors, including Murphy, have not paid the kind of attention that needs to be paid to it, especially when we’re concerned about the environment. We should have first-class mass transit here and instead we don’t. There needs to be investment in that.”
Q: Open Space vs Affordable Housing
“I was responsible and participated in preserving hundreds of acres of open space, including Skillman Park. The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) housing program is, to me, just a debacle. It has made it very difficult, as a mayor and as a freeholder … trying to deal with the tangle of regulations and requirements of the COAH program. There needs to be affordable housing for people who work in NJ, no question about it. But why are we putting it in the middle of what used to be farm fields where there’s no transportation? Doesn’t make any sense.”
Q: Thoughts on current New Jersey leadership.
“Gov. Murphy is probably left of many other Democrats in the state. He’s an ideologue, and he’s pushing the state farther and farther left. I think NJ is more of a moderate state.”
“Just (recently) he called for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Ironically, that was two days before our remembrance of 9/11, and if you recall, the policies that were put in place in NJ in the wake of 9/11, to make it difficult for most people to get a driver’s license, were done for public safety.”
“So Gov. Murphy’s now saying illegal immigrants should have access to driver’s licenses in NJ. That’s foolhardy. Those are the kinds of things he’s talking about. And we need more people in Trenton who are standing up and opposing it.”
Q: US News & World Report ranked NJ toward the bottom in fiscal stability. How do you ensure the state has balanced budgets and improves its credit rating?
“I was on the freeholder board in Somerset County, where we had a Triple A bond rating for as long as I was there. Here’s the secret: You don’t spend too much money, you manage things well and that gives you the ability to do the kinds of things you need to do to take care of your roads and your schools and your bridges. And you’re more fiscally stable. The reality is in NJ, for a very long time, we spend too much money.”
Q: Marijuana legalization?
“Not for recreational use. Because I just don’t think our children need another way-too-easily-accessible intoxicant. I do believe that if you make it legal, it’ll be much more prevalent. The kids who are not using marijuana because it’s illegal will now have a path to doing so.”
Q: What are the differences between you and your opponents?
“The governor is a left-wing guy, who I would argue is out of touch with most of NJ. They are members of his party, and they’re not necessarily going to stand up to him. As a matter of fact, for the most part, they’re going to vote with him. We’ve had Democratic control of the legislature for a very long time. And look at the results.” ■