CD 9 candidates debate Jersey issues

PARAMUS – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8) and U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) both said during a debate at Bergen Community College tonight that they disagree with the state pension reforms passed last year.

The candidates were asked during the debate if they would have supported the state level, bi-partisan pension reform passed last year by the Legislature and pushed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Pascrell called the pension changes by Christie and the Legislature an “absolute attack on public workers in this state.”

“If you want to change pensions and you want to change formulas, both (sides) have to agree to it,” Pascrell said.

Rothman also said he wouldn’t have voted for the pension reform, adding that he has “consistently fought against Gov. Christie when he’s been wrong.”

“I can work with Republicans but what I won’t do is cave in to Republicans,” Rothman said.

Pascrell countered by saying he also can work with Republicans, citing a time when he had to “round up 52 Republicans” to vote to make the Great Falls in Paterson a national park.

Pascrell and Rothman also criticized the cancellation of the proposed ARC tunnel, which was meant to connect New Jersey with Manhattan, but Christie cancelled the project due to cost overruns.

Tonight’s debate was the first of three between the two veteran lawmakers. Democrats in the newly drawn 9th District will choose between the two candidates in the Democratic primary on June 5.