The three 5th District Democratic candidates competing in the June 5 primary debated the issues in a forum at the in Teaneck Sunday.
Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, former Marine Jason Castle and Lyndon LaRouche supporter Diane Sare are all vying for the opportunity to run against Republican incumbent Scott Garrett for his seat in Congress in the November election.
The economy was a main topic at the debate. Gussen said he favored creating incentives for businesses to create jobs and would like to help America have complete energy independence.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to put America back to work," Gussen said.
Castle said he believed he could help create partnerships between schools and employers to help the unemployed receive training and move into new careers.
"We can create an environment where those who need jobs can get them," Castle said.
Sare said she favored undertaking the North American Water and Power Alliance, a plan developed in the 1950s which would have brought water from Alaska to the lower 48 states for farming and hydro-electric power. She also said she wanted to reinstate the Glass–Steagall Act, a law from the 1930s which regulated banks.
Sare also said she believed increasing focus on math and science, with the eventual goal of establishing civilization on the Moon and Mars, would help improve the economy and America's public education system.
"We can't have public education in a depression and a dark age," Sare said.
Castle said he supported public education and believes charter schools are not a solution to problems in public schools.
"We need to fix the public school system so all kids can benefit," Castle said.
Gussen said charter schools could be a part of the education system but public schools should still be funded and emphasize standardized tests less than they do now.
"Teaching to the test will never be the answer," Gussen said.
Castle criticized Gussen for being on Teaneck's council when $6.1 million was cut from the school district's budget. Gussen said the cuts were necessary after voters rejected the budget and criticized Castle for never holding office and living outside of the 5th District. Castle plans to move to Teaneck at the end of June.
Both men also criticized Sare for some of the issues she has spoken about. Castle described her as "an ideological extremist" because she promotes impeaching President Barack Obama, who she called "a reckless British puppet."
All three candidates criticized Garrett for his stance on campaign financing, education and the economy.
"Scott Garrett's last 10 years in Congress is an embarrassment to the state of New Jersey and the United States of America," Gussen said.
The primary election is on June 5. Whoever wins will face Garrett in the general election. Garrett has represented the 5th District since 2003.