Democrats hold “Meet the Candidates” night at the Library

PARSIPPANY — Parsippany Democrats congregated at the Parsippany Library on Wednesday, May 20, kicking off the Democratic campaigns in 2015.

The candidates in attendance were Parsippany-Troy Hills Council hopefuls Janice McCarthy and Nick Kumburis, as well as State Assembly contenders Avery Hart and Wayne Marek. Through event host Julia Peterson, Council candidate Greg Elbin apologized for being unable to attend.

All four of the candidates spoke and answered questions from the packed library conference room. The issues at hand included what the Democrats view as the fiscally irresponsible policies of the current Republican government, as well as addressing concerns of job creation and the Intervale Waterview development.

Janice McCarthy was the first to speak, calling for bipartisanship and bringing “sanity” back to Parsippany. She also spoke about her experience as an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, and believes she has a unique understanding of economic issues from a business perspective, a trait she feels is lacking on the current council. She also pledged to control the rampant lawsuits the Parsippany government has incurred, which she noted, “seem to be motivated more by political vendetta than legitimate reasons”. Ms. McCarthy also stated her opposition to the Waterview development, which has come up again under the Republican administration.

Nick Kumburis, fresh off of receiving his MBA, touched on a broad range of issues, including sanity in government, fiscal responsibility and jobs. Mr. Kumburis expressed a concern about the number of abandoned office buildings in Parsippany unable to attract tenants, raising the overall tax burden on property owners. Mr. Kumburis expressed that there ought to be a broad approach to economic development, including luring smaller businesses, not just the global corporations, to Parsippany.

Kumburis also addressed what he believed to be dysfunction in the Parsippany government, asserting that the infighting on the Republican side is bad publicity for the town and counter-productive to improving the lives of its citizens. “Parsippany has become one of the craziest towns in New Jersey politically,” he said, displaying pieces of campaign literature that had been distributed in the Republican primary. “We should all be able to get along”.

Avery Hart, running for the State Assembly focused on two key issues facing New Jersey: environmentalism and education. Ms. Hart railed against the Pilgrim Pipeline as damaging to local communities, blaming the Christie administration for supporting corporate interests over the needs and wants of the 26th District’s people. “The inaction on this issue by our current Assembly members is unacceptable,” she protested.

Ms. Hart then spoke about the need for a streamlined education bureaucracy on the local level. Her plan involved uniting all the school districts in a given county under one superintendent for that county. She claimed that this would save roughly $100 million which could be used to hire more teachers.

Wayne Marek, also running for the Assembly, first spoke about his experience in public service as a member of the Morris Plains Board of Education. He pointed out that the district was able to stay at or under their tax cap for the length of his tenure, while maintaining strong educational standards. He then went on to discuss growing the local economy through the district’s natural advantages, such as highway accessibility for businesses. He reminded the crowd that the election is, “All about the economy,” and stressed the need for an increased emphasis on a production economy in New Jersey.

Parsippany Democrats co-Chair Julia Peterson closed the meeting, thanking those in attendance and urging all Parsippany residents to vote in the primary election on Tuesday, June 2 and the general election on November 3.

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