The race in District 37 pits veteran Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg and her running mates, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, against Republican newcomers Robert S. Lebovics for Senate and Keith Jensen and John Aslanian for Assembly.
The Democratic incumbents have pointed to their record of sponsoring bills that create jobs, stop bullying and increase aid to school districts as reasons to re-elect them, while the Republican challengers have based their campaign largely on a platform backing the Fair School Funding Act sponsored by Sen. Michael Doherty (R-23), cutting property taxes and creating jobs.
Here are the candidates in the District 37 race:
Name: Loretta Weinberg* (Democrat)
Education: B.A. University of California (History)
Experience: Senate 2005-present, General Assembly 1992-2005, Majority Conference Leader 2002-05, National Democratic Convention Delegate 2000, 1996, 1972; N.J. Israel Commission 1994-present; N.J. Historical Commission 1992-present; N.J. Democratic State Committee 1993-96, Vice Chair; Township of Teaneck Council 1990-94
Jobs and the Economy: "I believe that some of this has to start at the federal level," Weinberg said. Republicans at the state level should urge their congressional colleagues to allow President Obama to move his job creation plans forward. At the state level, Weinberg points to the need for a state jobs bills championed by Democrats and economic development.
Education: Weinberg said state aid needs to stay stable and sharply criticized the Republican's school funding formula as "unconstitutional." Schools should explore more shared services with local governments, private schools and others.
"Our opponents think they will solve all of this with their simplistic school funding formula," Weinberg said.
Name: Robert S. Lebovics (Republican)
Hometown: Bronx, NY; Currently Englewood
Education: CUNY Queens College BA (Chemistry) 1978; SUNY Downstate Medical Center (Brooklyn, NY) MD 1982
Occupation: Surgeon (ENT, Head and Neck)
Experience: Ran for state Senate in 2005, Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) Committee, 2002 to present
High property taxes and high government spending: “To solve this would be my support for the Fair School Funding Bill," Lebovics said. "This will lower the average property tax bill by about a third. I will support a California-style proposition 13 to limit future increases in property taxes. Government needs to go on a diet and balance its bills and not borrow to be paid off by my children. Honorable people will have a civil discourse and arrive at fair shared sacrifice with regionalization of services that is agreed to by a majority of the people.”
Economy and job creation: “We need to compete with neighboring states to lure wealthy people back to NJ to buy homes and purchase our goods and services and prevent the middle class from fleeing our state," he said. "I would eliminate the estate tax in NJ. Waste and excessive bureaucracy needs to be cut. Business and personal tax rates need to be made competitive with neighboring states such as Pennsylvania.”
Name: Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle* (Democrat)
Education/Experience: B.A. Fairleigh Dickinson University. Member of the General Assembly 2006-present. Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee 2010-present. Member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders 2001-2007, Chair 2003-2005. Member of the Highlands Task Force 2003-2004.
Top Issues: "My primary goals now and in the upcoming legislative session are to rebuild New Jersey’s economy, create jobs, and increase municipal and education aid to District 37. I will continue to advocate for the preservation and improvement of New Jersey’s safety net for working families and vulnerable citizens, such as children, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities. I will also continue to advance government accountability, particularly at the Port Authority, to ensure that taxpayers know how their hard-earned dollars are spent."
Name: Gordon M. Johnson* (Democrat)
Education: B.S. St. Thomas Aquinas College (Social Science/Criminal Justice)
M.A. Seton Hall University (Administration and Supervision)
Public experience: Bergen County, Undersheriff 2002-05, 1999-2001,
Sheriff 2001-02; General Assembly 2002-present, Deputy Conference
"Property taxes are at the top of the list but I also think the high,
and increasing cost of living, including housing, services,
transportation, tolls, and so on are also a close second. In addition,
access to affordable education in the region is also becoming a
problem. Both cost of living and access to affordable education have
greatly increased as a result of the economic downturn."
Name: Keith Jensen (Republican)
Hometown: Fort Lee
Education: B.A. Environmental Science, B.A. Environmental Policy, Boston University; Numerous military training schools and business certifications
Occupation: Business entrepreneur – credit card industry for small businesses
Experience: First time candidate
(U.S. Army, 9 Years, Amtrak Customer Advisory Board Chairman, 5 years, Fort Lee Volunteer Fire Department, 6 Years)
1. “Cut property taxes by 30 percent by scrapping the current state school aid formula and creating a ‘Fair School Funding’ program that provides school aid on a per-pupil basis."
2. “Oppose an increase in the gasoline tax that my opponents favor. Commuters are already paying enough to drive to work.”
3. “Helping invigorate the New Jersey economy so the state can be more business friendly.”
Name: John Aslanian (Republican)
Hometown: Englewood Cliffs
Education: Bachelor’s of Science degree, George Washington University
Occupation: 30 years business experience in various businesses, including printing industry, health care and medical management
Experience: Ran for Congress in 2010
1. “Adopting the ‘Fair School Funding’ bill that will lower school property taxes in the 37th District by 30 percent.”
2. “Creating a business-friendly economy, cutting government red tape and creating jobs.”
3. “Fighting to lower property taxes for the people of Bergen County.”