CAPE MAY COURTHOUSE – The candidates in the first district’s Assembly race met for a debate Monday, where incumbents Bob Andrzejczak (D) and Sam Fiocchi (R) faced off along with running mates Bruce Land and Cumberland County freeholder Jim Sauro.
The debate marked the first time that the candidates have debated in person, and is likely to be the only time they do so before the cycle wraps up next month. Here are the highlights from tonight’s League of Women Voters debate, where Andrzejczak and Land held their own against an aggressive Fiocchi and Sauro.
- Sauro accused Anderzejzcak early in the evening of voting for a Corporate Business Tax, saying “He voted for increasing taxes this year, and I’m trying to figure out what kind of message that sends businesses.”
- Fiocchi immediately addressed super PAC attack ads that alleged he had a record of tax evasion, saying “I have paid all my taxes, that’s for sure.”
- Andrzejczak joined the rest of the candidates in opposing any hike in the state’s gas tax to help the flagging Transportation Trust Fund, proposing a “‘Pay as you go’ program.”
- Sauro joined in the offense against Andrzejczak, taking a pro-business tack along with Fiocchi: “We need more revenues against less expenditures. You can’t do that when Bob has supported a corporate business tax.”
- Sauro said that he had not seen any plan to dedicate the revenue from a gas tax to the Trust Fund, saying of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) “There’s no sense in raising taxes if it’s not dedicated to anything.”
- Land struck back at Fiocchi and Sauro by appealing to the room. “How many people here have business taxes? You all have property taxes.”
- Claiming that Land had portrayed him as pro-property-tax-hike, Fiocchi called the allegation untrue and “typical of this campaign.”
- During the exchange over property taxes, Andrzejczak began to talk over Sauro, with Sauro saying “I think I have the floor.”
- Sauro called on South Jersey legislators to mimic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) public funding strategies, saying “He takes care of North Jersey pretty good, especially education funding.”
- Sauro doubled down on his unvarnished opinions about undocumented immigrants, mentioning his radio show and raising his voice as he said “Illegal immigrants in our country have better healthcare than our veterans.”
- “We need more social workers in all of the high schools,” said Sauro on mental health care access in the state, asking of recent spending cuts “When you cut spending in school, what’s the first person they knock out?”
- “I hate to say that we’re going to agree that much on it,” he added wen it became clear that all wanted to improve veterans’ access.
- Accused by Fiocchi of supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students, Andrzejczak said Fiocchi was mischaracterizing an abstention and not pointing out a ‘Yes’ vote, saying “I don’t support in-state tuition.”
- “I call a spade a spade,” said Sauro of his choice to use the word ‘illegal’ rather than ‘undocumented. “They’re breaking the law,” he added, saying that one immigrant he spoke to who said she was afraid of the police “should be afraid of the police.”
- Land took a softer approach in his opposition to the Cumberland County resolution to offer a special class of drivers’ licenses to undocumented drivers, saying “All the immigrants in the world can come to America if they just do it the right way.”