Monroe Mayor Richard Pucci said he understands Gov. Chris Christie’s strategy of getting his message out with town hall-style meetings, but he doesn’t buy the message and doesn’t believe voters will either.
“When you consider the impact of his aid cuts here, it’s beyond us how he can pick to come to Monroe,” said Pucci, a 24-year mayor who’s up for re-election this year.
“He has a right to run the governorship the way he wants and invite whoever he wants to these meetings, but realize, we received $4.5 million in school aid before this governor. In his first year he cut $4.3 million, leaving us with $200,000. Devastating to Monroe. For the life of me – it’s up to him to explain why he’s having this in Monroe.”
Today’s Christie town hall is the second inside a month that the Republican governor is holding in the 14th Legislative District, where state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) faces a challenge from GOP plumber/pipefitter Richard Kanka.
Christie wants more Republicans in the Legislature where Democrats now hold a lopsided 24-16 edge.
“They can stand on their head, they’re not going to come close,” Pucci said of Republican efforts to wrest legislative control away from Democrats here. “No one works harder than Linda, she’s a constituent services senator. An off-year election is one thing, but public employees will be pushing voters in a way that hasn’t been seen in Trenton in the last 20 years.”
Pucci said he sympathizes with the governor’s efforts to project, but sees the town hall format at this point as little more than retreaded slogans. He wasn’t invited, and he won’t attend.
“I’m the mayor of the town and I didn’t get an invitation,” he said.
Christie’s people reached out to the business administrator looking for space, and the BA offered a venue with 125 seats, Pucci said. Christie’s reps said they needed a bigger space, and moved to a private venue, according to the mayor.
“I’m not going to say how he’s got to reach out to the people – millions of people,” said the mayor. “You have to communicate, I understand. I’m not going to take away from that. But the statements made in those town halls are very general. Sound bites are not getting to the teeth of the matter. The bottom line is when you’re a mayor sitting there you bear the brunt of it. I can tell you, he can talk about the tool kit all he wants but unless Trenton wants to go with a progressive income tax to fund schools the relief he says he wants is not going to happen.”