WILLINGBORO – Sen. Barbara Buono’s running mate says she’s embarrassed of her voting record in recent years, but is quick to highlight how her work on election days resulted in higher voter participation.
Milly Silva, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, says working long hours on election days as a union executive have precluded her from casting a ballot some years. However, she argues, her time was spent rallying volunteers and consistently working the get-out-to-vote campaign.
“If I could go back, I would absolutely have said, ‘I need to make sure how to figure out how to get back to my district and to cast my vote,’” Silva said. “I’m embarrassed about that and it is unfortunate, but I am proud of the fact that as an executive of 1199 SEIU, our record shows that we have the ability to mobilize.”
Silva responded to a PolitickerNJ report Monday that highlighted her sporadic voting history. The Democratic candidate and union activist voted in her first primary election in 2012 and failed to cast a ballot in the election that put her opponents, Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, in office.
“Milly has done more to increase voter participation in the electoral process than Gov. Christie can ever hope to,” responded Buono Tuesday when asked to comment on her running mate’s voting record.
Silva spent her time “ensuring that the elderly, the disabled [and] those who wouldn’t normally be able to get to the polls so easily” could participate in the electoral process, Buono said.
“And I just want to say one more thing on that issue, if Gov. Christie really cared about increasing voter participation, then you would have signed the Early Voting Act,” she said.
The pair appeared for the first time on the campaign trail at a senior center in Willingboro. Buono’s new running mate attacked Christie on the state’s unemployment rate and New Jersey’s high property taxes.
Silva, the executive vice president of SEIU 1199, told Burlington County residents her work with the union makes her qualified for the job as No. 2 to the state’s executive.
“As an executive of 1199 SEIU, my job has been to represent health care workers,” Silva said.
“We know what it means to struggle to get to where we are,” she said. “We also know that Gov. Christie has taken us in the wrong direction … and has been spending his time crisscrossing the nation charting his path to the presidency.”
Buono attacked critics who have said in recent days that Silva’s lack of experience in elected office makes her unqualified for the position, arguing the state needs a “refreshing” change from the status quo.
“She has a history of standing up and speaking out for all of those who are left behind,” Buono said. “I think Milly is a refreshing change to what we have in politics.”