In its mission to inform voters, the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area sent a questionnaire to the two candidates in the 16th Legislative District, who are vying to fill the one-year, unexpired term in the State Assembly. Marie Corfield, Democrat and teacher responded. Donna Simon, Republican, who was appointed to fill the vacancy after Assemblyman Pete Biondi's death, did not respond, according to the group. Here are Corfield's answers:
1. What do you consider the three most important challenges facing our state government? Briefly, how would you address them, including legislation you might sponsor?
Getting New Jersey back to work by creating a business-friendly environment, including making it easier for small businesses to start up, and fund job retraining programs.
Restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit so families have more money to invest in New Jersey’s economy.
Increase education funding for public schools and universities so our children can receive the education they need to succeed.
2. In recent years the Legislature has passed legislation to eliminate some mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for certain drug offenses. In light of the quadrupling of NJ’s prison population over the last 30 years, the $34,600 annual cost per inmate in custody, and the racial disparity that exists in our system, would you propose further measures to help reduce our prison population? Please explain why not or what measures you would propose.
Educating the public must be a top priority. As a state, we need to make sure we are taking all the preventive measures we can to ensure responsible behavior from our citizens. But once someone has been incarcerated it is important to have a strong reentry program. The highest risk period for those individuals is within that initial period following their release from prison. According to the Department of Corrections the reconviction rate for adult offenders is at 43% and re-incarceration rate is at 31% in New Jersey. We need to make sure the persons that are entering the halfway houses, along with the public are safe and secure.
3. Governor Christie has tried to appropriate local municipalities' unspent Affordable Housing Trust Fund monies and add these funds to NJ state accounts. Do you support this move? How are municipalities with excess funds in your district addressing affordable housing needs?
I believe local municipalities should be the ones that make the decisions for their communities.
4. Legislation to allow private universities to construct projects without local planning board approval has been passed by the Senate. How will you, as an Assemblywoman vote? And why?
Local planning boards are essential to a community’s health and growth. The Senate bill 1534 would exempt the state’s 14 private schools from these boards. Although the schools do have a stake in the community, the local communities themselves should have a say in what goes on in their area.
MISSION STATEMENT: The League of Women Voters®, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.// To read the responses of candidates for other offices and to find links to debates, go to the LWVPA website at www.lwvprinceton.org.
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