The following are the endorsements of The Lakewood Vaad and Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewksi for tomorrow’s elections provided to the Lakewood community and presented here online exclusively by Matzav.com. They are presented here for our readers’ perusal and for the consideration of Lakewood residents:
Dear Chaverim and Families,
With much at stake for our Kehilla in this election, we spent a significant amount of time speaking to Rabbonim, representatives of the neighborhoods such as the LAC, the Igud representatives of the Mosdos, downtown merchants, community groups, chesed organizations, and askanim, before arriving at our endorsements. We are pleased that our endorsements represent a wide consensus and we urge everyone to go out and vote in what is going to be a close election.
The Vaad endorses incumbent Governor Jon Corzine for reelection. We do so in line with a 40-year plus long-standing, publicly expressed, formal Kehilla policy of endorsing for reelection incumbent candidates who have been supportive of the Kehilla. This policy was originally set with the guidance of Moreinu Rav Shneur zatzal, under whose ruach and hadracha Lakewood developed, and we afford it the gravity that it therefore deserves
The Kehilla owes hakaras hatov to Governor Corzine, who has gone well out of his way, both in his years as Senator and in the past 4 years as Governor, to support Lakewood. Mr. Corzine has worked hard to make a real difference in the lives of the average citizen in Lakewood and he deserves our support for that. He inherited a decades old set of funding formulas that were unfair to Lakewood’s taxpayers and his administration worked fast to fix them. Lakewood was long shortchanged in State Aid for school funding, and in State Aid to the municipality, formulas that determined the amount of state dollars sent to Lakewood. These dollars are regrettably made up for by increased burdens on the local taxpayer.
As Governor, Mr. Corzine scrapped the unfair CEIFA school district formula, and replaced it with a new formula that for the first time recognizes Lakewood’s private school kids and counts them in how dollars are awarded - significantly increasing state dollars flowing to Lakewood. For the 2007-2008 year he gave Lakewood’s School District an increase of more than $3,000,000, which was one of the highest percentage increases in the entire state. He gave yet another major increase for the 2008-2009 year, this time of some $7,000,000. This was repeated yet again for the 2009-2010 year with the running total of increased aid to Lakewood’s school district at some $20,000,000.
Governor Corzine worked hard with a reluctant legislature to restructure state finances, on which much work remains to be done. We regret that he did not take a more proactive approach to State union negotiations; we believe this hampered his efforts to fix the underlying problems in the state budget.
This year we approached his administration with a request that federal stimulus dollars be given out on a basis that counts all Lakewood’s kids (and not just public school kids). The Corzine administration acted quickly, Lakewood was awarded $5.9 million in Title 1 funds, of which a significant portion are monies earmarked to the Mosdos of Lakewood. We are disappointed that his administration failed to make permanent a one time Corzine program that gave technology funds to private schools. He has firmly promised to restore that vital program, which will benefit Lakewood’s Mosdos.
Governor Corzine previously did not support legislation such as Senate Bill 1607, which create corporate scholarships in municipalities such as Lakewood which would help pay the tuition for elementary and high school children in private schools via tax credits. He has now indicated that he will partner with us and the various stakeholders in getting into passable form, which is critical for the financial stability of the Mosdos. The Vaad has put years of work into S1607, and while it is not yet assured of passage through the Senate and Assembly, regardless of who wins the Governor’s race, we will continue to advocate for it aggressively.
Governor Corzine has also agreed to name a high level state commission that will find appropriate ways to bring more state dollars to Lakewood’s private school Mosdos and private schools statewide. He has agreed to name a Lakewood representative to this commission; we believe this offers another excellent avenue to secure critical funds for our private schools Mosdos.
A word on School Vouchers for our private schools: Elementary and High School public education funding in New Jersey has been historically covered by local real estate taxes. Any voucher plan for private school children, even if ever passed, would surely be no different. There is not a single Senator or Assemblyman who supports State funded vouchers. We would of course love to see a State funded Voucher bill for private school kids, which would make a fundamental difference in our lives. None of the candidates support such a bill, its passage is highly unlikely, and State funding for it non-existing. In short - we do not support a Voucher bill that requires our local Lakewood taxpayers to pay huge new taxes for their own children.
Over the past four years Governor Corzine did not just focus on Lakewood’s taxpayers. He also introduced legislation expanding health care for poor families. As a direct result over 3,000 additional Lakewood families were able to enroll in the New Jersey Family Care health plan. This added both adults and children - directly helping more than ten thousand people in need in our Kehilla.
His administration also went out of its way to support Lakewood in its efforts to build affordable housing for struggling families. N.J. Hand is one such example - State funding for N.J Hand has been the key to the development of nearly 500 homes that will help many in Lakewood.
We note the Governor’s consistent efforts on behalf of the SCHI School, yet another example of his commitment to assisting Lakewood. We also draw attention to his administration’s recent very positive efforts to enable the expansion plans of the Cheder. We also draw attention to his pledge to implement a state charitable tax deduction on donations made to non-profits and to his legislation that protects frum people in the workplace, hospitals and nursing homes.
Our work with Governor Corzine is not complete. The Governor has promised to address some of the most vexing issues facing Lakewood. Primary among these is to fix the problems on Route 9. The Corzine administration has committed to the widening and improvement of Route 9 from the Lake to Route 70. This will make a huge difference. The Route 9 improvements are one of many planned for Lakewood. Others include upgrading traffic signals, improving secondary roads and supporting public transportation.
The Corzine administration is also working on expanding Lakewood’s Urban Enterprise Zone, to include additional areas of town. This means more dollars for Lakewood Township and more tax ratables by encouraging businesses to move to Lakewood.
In summary; the Corzine administration has developed a strong partnership with Lakewood, supporting its taxpayers, schools, families in need of healthcare and housing and helping Lakewood with crucial infrastructure needed to accommodate Lakewood’s growth. As such we endorse Governor Corzine for reelection.
We endorse Assemblymen Joseph Malone and Ron Dancer for reelection to the State Assembly.
Joseph Malone has a very senior and sensitive position in Trenton - he is now the Republican Budget Officer in the State Assembly. He also sits on the Assembly Budget Oversight Committee, on the Assembly Education Committee and on the Joint Senate/Assembly Committee for the Public Schools. Lakewood needs experienced friends like Joseph to ensure that Lakewood’s taxpayers are properly represented. Both Joseph Malone and Ron Dancer have always voted in the Assembly in the best interest of our Kehilla and the Lakewood taxpayer. Ron Dancer is also Chairman of the Ocean County Board of Social Services; he has been there constantly, ensuring that needy members of our Kehilla are able to access the full range of social services. Messrs. Malone and Dancer have proven themselves to be an able and effective team in Trenton, with particular focus on budgetary matters.
We endorse John Bartlett and Gerry Little for reelection to the Board of Freeholders. John Bartlett has been serving as County Freeholder for more than 25 years - in that time he has never said no to any reasonable request from the Kehilla. The County is the primary address for the social services that help needy yechidim and mishpochos (WIC, HUD certification, Food Stamps, HEAP, NJ Family Care and more); John Bartlett has consistently worked to make sure that the appropriate share of services reach Lakewood - and he has never hesitated to get personally involved when needed. His running mate is Gerry Little, Chairman of Human Service for the County; in the short time that Gerry has been active he has proven himself to be a true proactive and energetic friend of Lakewood. It is much to their credit that the County’s social service agencies are sensitive and caring for the needs of Lakewood’s families. They have also ably overseen the County Medical Examiner’s office and the County’s Emergency Management services that protect our Kehilla.
We endorse long time Sheriff William Polhemus for reelection. He serves loyally, working tirelessly to keep Lakewood safe and secure, directing much needed county resources to assist law enforcement in Lakewood. His department is professional, devoted, and ready for the tasks. They act with sensitivity and great fairness in all situations; Sheriff Polhemus fully deserves our endorsement.
Our dedicated askanim, Meir Lichtenstein and Menashe Miller are now up for reelection. They have worked tirelessly and non-stop for the past three years and they greatly need and deserve our wholehearted and energetic support. They are facing not only democratic and republican alternatives, but also opposition from a third party candidate. This magnifies the challenge that they are facing. While change is slow in coming to the Township, they have never shirked from taking an active role in trying to address any and all issues that came before the Township Committee. They are to be commended not only for their non stop advocacy and representation of all of us in Lakewood, but also for their accessibility, humble manner and the pleasant way with which they approach askanus.
We close with notes of thanks to the Igud HaMosdos, which ably advocates for the specific needs of the schools of our Kehilla. They continue to provide us with sage input, and to stand with us as we have jointly sought to address the issues facing the Kehilla. We are also most fortunate to have a large core of over 70 local askanim who stand at our side; these askanim ably serve on the many boards of the township government with dedication, integrity and dignity. We also thank the LAC neighborhood representatives who add a vital and critical voice that is so needed in Lakewood. We warmly thank all for their commitment to the needs of the Kehilla and to the entire Lakewood. Finally and most important, we thank you, members of the Tzibbur at large, who have stood with us patiently through the years, supporting us as we work diligently to resolve the needs of all.
Lakewood’s strength internally and externally is because it is bachdus, voting in a unified fashion, and based on long principles of hakaras hatov, rather than on any expediency of the moment.
The Lakewood Vaad and Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewksi