Posted on October 29, 2011
October 25, 2011: The Korean American Voters’ Council (KAVC), the Korean American Association of Fort Lee, and other Korean organization held the New Jersey District 37 Candidate Forum at the Fort Lee Public Library. New Jersey is divided into forty districts, and from each district, one senator and two assembly persons are elected. The northeastern areas where Koreans reside are primarily incorporated into District 37 (Alpine, Bogota, Cresskill, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, Leonia, Northvale, Palisades Park, Rockleigh, Teaneck, and Tenafly).
Candidates for both senate and assembly positions introduced themselves and talked about various strategies catered for the Korean American community.
Incumbent Senator- Loretta Weinberg
Ms. Weinberg was not able to attend the forum due to a previously scheduled event, but asked for the Korean American community’s support through a video message.
Incumbent Assemblyman – Gordon Johnson
Mr. Johnson has worked as a police officer, soldier, and an assemblyman to serve the public. He mentioned that he is greatly interested in the Korean American community, and asked for its support.
Incumbent Assemblywoman – Valerie Huttle
Ms. Huttle mentioned that she fought hard to fix and change laws to help small businesses. She proposed a plan to continue helping the lower- and middle-class people, fix schools, and help the disadvantaged, and asked for support from voters.
Assembly Candidate ? Julian Heicklen
Mr. Heicklen admitted that he is not well-acquainted with the Korean American community, but wanted to build relations. He promised to fix problems with high taxes, illegal immigration, white supremacists, and other issues.
Senate Candidate – Robert Lebovics
As a son of an immigrant, Mr. Lebovics said that he understands the struggle of Korean immigrants, and wanted to respect the Korean community. Through economic development, he wanted to fix financial difficulties, protect small business owner, and give his full effort to the education of children.
Assembly Candidate – Gregory John Aslanian
Mr. Aslanian stated that New Jersey is the worst state to do business in, and that New Jersey needs a change from the old regime to the new.
Assembly Candidate – Keith Jensen
Mr. Jensen pledged to reduce property costs by 1/3 and will strive to fight for education and increase the funding to schools.
The candidates held a fierce debate with various issues, and spoke of their strategies.
- New Jersey’s Tax and Ecomony
In response to the Republican’s tax proposals, Johnson argued that taxes are not created by the state legislature, but rather the local municipalities, thus nullifying the Republicans’ strategies. In order to lower property taxes, the government has to make more revenue. Johnson stated that he is thinking about consolidating various state services to save money. Huttle spoke about putting the poor and elderly on the top of the list for tax refunds. Also she criticized the Republicans’ plan for a fair school funding program, saying that all children deserve equal treatment instead of competition between municipalities, and that more funding would be necessary for all the children to get the same, equal treatment.
Heicklen stated that he will fight to get rid of the income tax, but will raise the sales tax for luxury goods. He also agreed with the Democrats’ argument that tax responsibility lies with the local municipality, not the state.
Lebovics and the two Republican candidates criticized the current administration for such high taxes in New Jersey, and with adjustments to the education budget, they can provide children with equal education and reduce spending at the government level.
- Grants for Korean American organizations in New Jersey
Johnson spoke of his experience working with Korean American groups that needed fiscal support and pledged to assist organizations that need help. Huttle said that since she is working with leaders of the Korean American community, she can help the community efficiently.
Heicklen stated that he spent his whole life fighting against oppression and discrimination, and he will make sure that Koreans are not discriminated against.
Lebovics stated that he will make sure that the Korean American community is respected. Aslanian asked voters to give them a chance to help Koreans, and pledged to make sure that Korean War veterans from Korea receive assistance from the American government. Jensen said that he attempted to learn Korean, is the only one interested in helping the Korean businesses, and is set on helping the Korean community.
- Toll Increase
Huttle raised the issue of the lack of NJ governor’s effort to suppress the toll increase. She promised to monitor the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with both parties to ensure its transparency.
Heicklen said that the toll is absolutely justified in that people who use it need to pay. He suggested people to use public transit in response to the high toll.
Lebovics said the Port Authority is not transparent, and their rules are ludicrous. The Port Authority’s tendency to spend collected toll on replenishing costs for 240+ projects is not justified. Aslanian criticized the governor because he declined to keep the toll at its previous price and held the hearings at hard-to-reach places at the same time. He commented that letters be drawn up to be sent to him.