Money is the big factor in the 8th arrondissement. What about participation?
The 8th Legislative District spans over 20 cities in Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties and has become increasingly politically competitive in recent years. Now, the races for Senate and Assembly seats here are among the few competitive legislative races statewide.
This year’s election features incumbent Senator Dawn Marie Addiego in her first campaign as a Democratic MP against Republican MP Jean Stanfield. With Stanfield vying for the Senate seat and Assembly Member Ryan Peters retiring, there are no incumbents seeking re-election to the Assembly.
The candidates for the Assembly are all relatively new. On the Democratic side, Mark Natale, a Marlton lawyer, and Allison Eckel, a marketer, are competing with Republican candidates Mike Torrissi, a Hammonton city councilor, and Brandon Umba, a Lumberton Township administrator.
âThis race will take place in the air, but won in the trenches,â said Ben Dworkin, director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship.
Ten years ago, there were 4,200 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the district, Dworkin said. There are now over 9,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. This trend towards more Democrats indicates a possible shift in voter turnout, but that would depend on how the next two weeks unfold, he said.
Let’s talk dollars
Money plays an important role in these races, one of the few competitive legislative districts in the state. The 80 Assembly seats are on the ballot, as are the 40 Senate seats. Voters will also be asked to choose the next state governor as well as decide on two statewide voting issues and local races.
So far, almost $ 3 million has been spent by candidates and independent spending committees for the elections in the 8th constituency. And, Dworkin said, “A lot of money is going to be spent in the next couple of weeks.”
People in the 8th arrondissement are highly motivated to vote, Stanfield said. âPeople are unhappy with the affordability issues in New Jersey,â she said. The issue of property taxes is a main point of contention for Stanfield and his running mate.
Umba said: âWe are here to deliver results for our residents, not to keep raising taxes. One of the pillars of their campaign is to make sure New Jerseyans stay in the state. âI don’t want to see people leaving New Jersey anymore,â Umba said. âIt’s time for voters to get their taxes paid off. ”
Torrissi expressed the same sentiment when he said, âWe want to make sure companies get into New Jersey. At current rates, these candidates see property taxes as one of the main issues facing their district.
Agree on property taxes
Democratic candidates have a similar opinion on property taxes. âProperty taxes, as we all know, are crippling for New Jersey families,â Natale said.
Addiego said she would like to continue her work on affordability. âI have been able to advocate for the freezing of property tax relief for seniors and to expand the family property property tax rebate program that so many people rely on to make our district more affordable. She said.
One factor that candidates claim is fueling their district’s high property taxes – the school funding formula. Eckel is a member of the Lenape High School Regional School Board and has seen first-hand how integral school funding is in creating affordability in his community. “If we don’t get our fair share of state funding, our property taxpayers are all forced to compensate,” Eckel said.
âThe current budget is not enough to fund schools,â Stanfield said. âWe need to put more money back into the school system and prevent people from having to fill these gaps on their own. “
Umba went further by claiming that under Addiego school districts lost and suffered from state aid. âStudents are being left behind in the current formula for funding schools,â Umba said. âIn the end, the 8th arrondissement is losing.
Addiego’s first run as a Democrat
This race is particularly competitive as it is Addiego’s first election as a Democratic candidate. She has represented the 8th constituency since 2010, but left the Republican Party in 2019. Addiego said she doesn’t care how this might affect her success in that election. As the incumbent, Addiego said, “When voters vote, I think they’ll take my leadership into account, not arbitrary labels.”
Dworkin noted that Addiego’s Democratic affiliation did not appear to affect public perception of him. âOtherwise, they would criticize her for it,â Dworkin said.
Addiego is not the only candidate with a history of public service. Stanfield served a term in the Assembly in addition to his career as Burlington County Sheriff. âI spent my time talking to people and providing them with the services they need,â Stanfield said. She thinks she is ready to face the Senate.
With less than two weeks of the election, Dworkin stressed that it would be up to who can vote. “They have to get their people to the polls,” he said. To do this, candidates can contribute even more money than has already been spent on their campaigns.
Election day is November 2. Early voting will begin on October 23 and end on October 31. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked or deposited in a drop box by 8 p.m. on November 2.