Andrew Zwicker, a Democratic candidate running for one of two open seats in the New Jersey Assembly, Legislative District 16, has been endorsed by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, representing more than 4,000 firefighters and emergency services workers, and by the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ), representing 32,000 members who work in schools from pre-kindergarten through university. Zwicker has also been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters.
“I am honored to be endorsed by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey and by the AFT,” stated Zwicker, “and if I am elected, I will fight to make full funding of state pensions and respect for teachers a major priority.”
Dominick Marino, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, wrote that Governor Christie, acknowledging the failure of the state to make payments to the New Jersey pension fund, “enacted a law requiring the state to ramp up its payments to the full amount called for under the contract over a seven-year period. Less than two years later, Governor Christie violated his own commitment under the law he championed, and declared the required payments unconstitutional. Once again money was borrowed from the employees’ futures to pay for current political priorities.”
New Jersey state debt has been ranked as the worst in the country in a nationwide study by the nonprofit Truth in Accounting and is tied with Mississippi for 48th place in the growth rate of jobs in the private sector, according to the Star-Ledger. In addition, its bond rating has been downgraded, dropping it to 46th out of 50 states, costing taxpayers more in interest payments. “
It is appalling that the state government has ducked out of its responsibility to fund the pensions of state workers, including first responders,” stated Zwicker. “And this from a governor who does not have receipts for almost a quarter million dollars in what he claims are official expenses and another one million in expenses for his out-of-state travel—all funded by the taxpayers of New Jersey,” he said.
“Unfortunately our Republican opponents in the Assembly support every position taken by the governor. Jack Ciattarelli has proposed a plan to fund pensions that would result in every New Jersey town paying at least 25 percent of its own school costs, which would raise property taxes. We don’t need that kind of retrogressive thinking, especially in a state that is suffering economically,” said Zwicker. “New Jersey needs legislators who will stand up to Chris Christie.”
About the Candidates: Andrew Zwicker, who holds a PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University, heads the Science Education Department at the Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University Also running on the Democratic ticket for Assembly is Maureen Vella, an attorney and former judge, who received her JD from Southwestern University.