New Jersey residents will have a chance to elect their next governor on Nov. 2. The candidates are current Gov. Phil Murphy, who has held the position since 2018, and former state assembly member Jack Ciattarelli, who served between 2011 and 2018.
Two gubernatorial debates later, New Jersey voters have learned everything they need to know about where candidates stand on key issues such as the Covid vaccine, taxes and reproductive rights.
Since taking office, Murphy has made a $6.9 billion pension payment to fund public schools, putting the state on the map for one of the best education systems in America, according to US News. He has emphasized in debates that, as governor, tax relief has been granted to middle-income families, education is well-funded, healthcare has been more affordable and women's reproductive rights have been protected.
His plan for New Jersey includes: strengthening the state’s position as a great place to raise a family, combating climate change for a more sustainable future, maintaining the state’s ranking as the number one public education system in the country and preventing gun violence.
One of the most recent actions the governor has taken was providing additional child care investments to support working families, child care workers and providers.
“We know that child care is one of the key challenges facing families – especially single moms – as they rejoin our workforce,” said Governor Murphy. “Through these investments, we are committed to providing the necessary support to ensure that this challenge does not become an obstacle.”
Republican nominee Ciattarelli is both a politician and businessman who chose Diane Allen as his running mate. Holding drastically opposite views from Murphy, Ciattarelli claims he will lower taxes and “restore affordability, accountability and prosperity” to New Jersey given his business experience.
Ciattarelli’s plan for the state is largely to lower property taxes to make home ownership more affordable, upgrade infrastructure to improve safety and facilitate commerce, make healthcare more affordable and protect medical freedom.
“Hard-working residents throughout the state are burdened by the highest taxes in the nation and have been left to fend for themselves by an incompetent state government. They're tired of politicians who are more concerned with pointing fingers than providing solutions,” said Ciattarelli. “It's time to tackle the top issues facing New Jersey families and build a government that serves its citizens effectively. When I'm Governor, we will.”
Although both candidates have a plan for improving the functions of the state, they each have serious accusations against them, which may affect voters’ choices at the polls.
Murphy has been in the midst of sexual assault allegations by his former staffer Katie Brennan, who came forward during the governor’s 2017 campaign. According to NorthJersey.com, Brennan’s attorneys accused Murphy’s campaign of using its workplace discrimination policy to conceal the alleged sexual assault from Murphy and therefore silencing her.
Ciattarelli has been accused of being a white supremacist after having attended a Stop the Steal rally surrounded by Confederate Flags. His opposition toward reproductive rights resurfaced during this election cycle, and was further discussed at the gubernatorial debates. Viewers cited a contradiction in his stance on abortion, seeing that he did not comment on whether or not he would enforce a ban of his own as governor.
As of now, Murphy continues to lead in the polls by a 50% approval rating. According to nj.com, 58% support mask mandates in schools and 66% support a vaccine requirement for health care workers. Therefore, it is not surprising that voters said Murphy would manage the crisis better than Ciattarelli by 50% to 34%.
Early voting is available until Sunday, Oct. 31, but polls open to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 2.