At his North Bergen Town Hall, his first public appearance in Hudson County, Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Phil Murphy spoke about incoming President Donald Trump, Gov. Chris Christie (R), and revitalizing the state economy, among many other topics.
In front of an audience of at least 200 people, Murphy’s first speaking point was about getting through 2017: where Donald Trump will be sworn in as president in just a few days and also Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s last year in office.
“There are only two gubernatorial elections in the United States of America this year: New Jersey and Virginia. Next year there will be 36, but this year there are two,” began Murphy.
“So if we go into this expecting that we’re gonna have a walk in the park, and he who shall not be named won’t want to come in and throw his weight around, and throw his values and try to jam them down our throat, I think we’re naive to think that.”
Murphy has been vocal about opposing Trump’s plans to deport illegal immigrants and repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, points he reiterated on Tuesday.
“I will not take orders from above that are unconstitutional or un-American, you have my word that we’ll stand up and fight,” exclaimed Murphy.
After talking about his past, including where his family was “rubbing pennies together” growing up and eventually serving as a U.S. Ambassador to Germany under President Barack Obama, Murphy again took aim at Christie.
While he supports his plans to help those struggling with addiction, he said it’s long overdue for the state to do something about unemployment and the “broken” middle class.
He added that getting the STEM and infrastructure economy going again would go a long way for job creation.
“The good news is when you get a STEM economy going and you get innovation, and you reclaim that healthcare space that we used to own, telecommunications and what not, it’s not just the doctoral jobs you create, you create jobs up and down the food chain,” said Murphy.
Murphy further stated that North Bergen and Hudson County could be some of the biggest beneficiaries in the state if Trenton got back into investing in infrastructure such roads, rails, bridges and tunnels.
After vowing to eliminate the pay equality gap between men and women, as well as minorities, and making college affordable, Murphy explained why his concept of a public bank could be beneficial to all New Jerseyans.
“Matt [Platkin, the head of policy for the Murphy campaign] found a bank last year: average daily cash balance from New Jersey – a billion three. That bank made three loans through the small business administration program, back into New Jersey last year for a total of $220,000,” Murphy recalled.
“Again, you don’t have to be a math major: a billion three, $220,000. Here’s the idea: take all those deposits and bring ’em back and put ’em in a bank we own – the people’s bank of New Jersey.”
Murphy said using this model, making small scale infrastructure loans, small business loans and offering student loans “not at loan shark rates” possible.
During a short question and answer session with the audience, North Bergen Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter asked how Trenton could help underfunded districts like North Bergen that are non-Abbott districts which also do not qualify for School Development Authority funding.
Murphy was introduced by state Senator (D-32)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, who already referred to the former Goldman Sachs executive as “our next governor” back in October.
A spokesman for Christie’s office did not return an email seeking comment about Murphy’s criticisms of the current administration.
Dignitaries in attendance included Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (both D-32), Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, West New York Mayor Felix Roque, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, North Bergen Commissioner Frank Gargiulo, Allen Pascual, Hugo Cabrera and Julio Marenco, West New York Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo, Susan Colacurcio and Margarita Guzman, Guttenberg Councilman Wayne Zitt, North Bergen Freeholder Anthony Vainieri (D-8) among many others.