After the New Jersey Education Association paid for two negative mailers about her time in office, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight returned fire, calling the organization “a bully that are throwing daggers at me.”
“So there’s a bully out there, right, and it’s called NJEA. We’re gonna speak truth, right? I’m this little old woman just trying to help people and there’s a bully that are throwing daggers at me,” she told a room of about 75 people at the Brightside Tavern last night.
“Today, there were two pieces of mail, one went to Jersey City and one went to Bayonne and they’re tying me with Christie, saying that me and Christie are voting together and we’re taking money from Jersey City and Bayonne. That is a lie.”
McKnight continued that no one one from the NJEA ever had a conversation with her during her year-and-a-half in office, so she felt “blindsided” when Kristen Zadroga Hart, a longtime operative of the Jersey City Education Association, entered the race.
The incumbent also embraced her role as a board member of the Jersey City Community Charter School.
“But let me tell you, but before the HCDO and the mayor and [former] Councilwoman Coleman came to me, I was already sitting on a charter board and then they came to me, so what am I supposed to do: throw away everything that I have done, just because of an election?,” she questioned.
“I did not do that, so I continue to stay on that board and I still am on that board. I’m also on P.S. 15 advisory board, which is a public school. And just, let me let you know this, charter schools are public schools,” adding that she supports all educational institutions.
McKnight further stated that while education is an important issue in LD-31, other concerns regarding homelessness, senior citizens, the disabled and the environment are all important so it is curious someone would have a campaign that focuses on just one subject.
“You cannot knock down someone who genuinely cares for the community,” McKnight said at the tail end of their speech, saying the NJEA’s money would be better spent on supplies in the classroom “instead of throwing money away.”
“There’s only seven days left: in those seven days, we’re gonna here a lot of rumors and a lot of stories because desperate people … desperate times calls for desperate measures,” chimed in Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti, McKnight’s running mate who is supported by the NJEA but lost the endorsement of the JCEA.
Additionally, McKnight received support from numerous elected officials such as HCDO Executive Director John Minella, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20), Jersey City Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson and Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) at the event.
In response, Hart was unimpressed, wondering why McKnight has never made an attempt to work with the NJEA to better an underprivileged and underfunded district.
“I am equally perplexed by a state legislator who has also never reached out to one of the largest employers in her district to understand the issues or the challenges we need addressed in Trenton,” Hart said in an email.
“Bayonne and Jersey City are under assault. Our district is being villainized by a Republican governor and lawmakers in South Jersey that think Bayonne will be just fine school funding that’s $10 million less than what they’re entitled to and that Jersey City is just skyscrapers and multi-million dollar waterfront property.”
“I entered this race because our schools, our teachers, our kids and their parents need representatives fighting for them against hostile political elements in Trenton and throughout the State of New Jersey.”
A spokesman for the NJEA did not return calls seeking comment this afternoon.
The Democratic primary election is on Tuesday, June 6.