NJ Gubernatorial Debate Comes to William Paterson

Yulliet Ruiz, News Editor

The two New Jersey gubernatorial candidates faced off for the final time Wednesday night at William Paterson University.

Though the race to the New Jersey’s governor’s office hasn’t been an intense one Phil Murphy of the Democratic party and Kim Guadagno of the Republican party attempted to liven it up on stage at Shea Auditorium.
Demonstrators from both parties rallied outside the auditorium.
“It’s been two years without a contract,” said Kathleen Hernandez, Vice President of Communications Workers of America. “Murphy is what we want.”
The debate was moderated by Kristine Johnson, an anchor of WCBS-TV in New York. The panel also included Jessica Dean, co-anchor of KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Alfred Doblin, the editorial page editor for the record, and Levon Putney, an anchor and reporter for WCBS Radio.
The candidates had snappy retorts at the ready and repeatedly called each other liars.
“You’ve left the middle class behind and now you’ve left the truth behind,” said former U.S. ambassador to Germany Murphy.
One of the first questions was directed towards Lieutenant Governor Guadagno on how she would respond to voters who didn’t want to vote for her because of her time in the Christie administration.
“I’m running on my own record. I’m running on my principles. I’m running on my own values,” she responded.
Murphy, who is leading in polls by double digits, said otherwise. “His record is her record.”
A variety of topics were discussed, with property taxes taking center stage. Guadagno made the focus of her campaign the lowering of property taxes, as they are a big problem afflicting many New Jersey residents.
Guadagno’s plan is a five percent cap on taxes going to schools. Any excess taxes owed will serve as a credit to their property tax bill. She has pointed out that Murphy does not have a solid plan for property taxes. Murphy has stated that he doesn’t promise to lower taxes, but instead impose more taxes for high-income earners, corporations, and marijuana.
With the legalization of weed becoming more and more popular, the candidates also discussed the future of the plant in New Jersey.
Murphy stated that is was social justice issue before a tax one.
“If it doesn’t pass the social justice test, you can’t talk about revenue implications, and the fact of the matter is that we have the widest white/nonwhite gap of persons incarcerated in New Jersey,” he said.
However, Guadagno favors decriminalization instead of legalization. She cites recent hikes in car accidents in Colorado as evidence against the legalization of marijuana, as well as sending a bad message as New Jersey is fighting an opioid crisis.
At one point during the night, a heckler shouted something to Murphy. He claimed he couldn’t hear was was shouted.
“‘Answer the question!’ was the shout,” Guadagno clarified.
Khizar Siddiqui, a student from William Paterson, was able to ask the candidates about whether they support free college tuition.
Murphy supports free community college. He explained a plan that involves a public bank giving money and loans being forgiven if students attended college in New Jersey and stayed in New Jersey for five years afterward.
After the debate, Murphy also stated that he supports increased funding for state schools. “The previous administration ravaged higher education funding. We should invest in STEM R&D funding. There have been studies that show that they bring in more money.”
Guadagno, on the other hand, disagreed.
“You know who’s going to pay for it. Look around the room,” she said. “Everyone in New Jersey is going to pay for it.”
The last question of the night pertained to the candidate’s favorite fruit and vegetables.
Broccoli and grapefruit said Murphy.
“Jersey tomatoes and cranberries, of course,” said Guadagno.
Murphy’s footwear choice also made rounds on twitter. While wearing a suit, he donned blue wool athletic shoes made by Allbirds, an ecofriendly footwear company.
“They were given to me by my son. He wasn’t able to be here tonight so I wear them for him.”
After the debate, students from the Communication Department and the Political Science Department held a panel discussing the debate. It was led by communications professor Joann Lee and political science professor Christine Kelly.