By Olivia Rizzo
Gubernatorial candidate John Wisniewski came to the College on Thursday, April 13, so students and members of the local community could have some of their questions about New Jersey’s future answered.
The Democratic candidate for the state’s highest office participated in an in-person town hall in room 212 of the Education Building, which was broadcasted online via Facebook Live.
Wisniewski believes strongly in the need for electoral reform and the overturn of Citizens United, which was a major talking point during last year’s presidential election primaries.
“We have to make sure we have a democratic process that allows ordinary people to have a voice because without that voice, issues that are important to all of us never have the opportunity to be heard,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski has been a member of the State Assembly serving District 19 for 21 years. In that time, he has served as the chair and deputy speaker of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. If elected governor, Wisniewski will take on political and economic corruption in the state, as well as advocate for working- and middle-class families, according to his campaign site.
“We need to make sure that we are addressing one of the single biggest issues that face not just New Jersey, but the nation’s health care,” the candidate said, commenting on one of his main campaign points. “What I will do as governor and what I propose is that we create America’s first statewide single payer healthcare system.”
Wisniewski said by creating a single payer healthcare system in New Jersey, state residents won’t have to worry about what is happening with the Affordable Care Act in the nation’s capital.
The Democratic candidate also spoke on his plans to provide tuition-free college for students coming from households with an annual income of $125,000 or less. This will be a step in solving the state’s current student debt crisis, according to Wisniewski.
Wisniewski also elaborated on his stance on environmental policies.
“The legacy of environmental contamination in New Jersey is rich, and we still have a lot of work to be done,” Wisniewski said. “Whether it is Superfund sites that need to be cleaned up or just standing up to the people who know that the rules aren’t being enforced try to bend the rules.”
In the question and answer portion of the town hall, a College student asked Wisniewski about his stance on legalizing marijuana. The candidate replied that he plans to legalize and decriminalize marijuana.
“The so-called war on drugs that we have been fighting for however many years have resulted in thousands of people in the state having criminal records from use and possession,” Wisniewski said. “They then can’t get jobs, they can’t get student loans, it creates an entire world of problems.”
Wisniewski said that by legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, state police resources will be better utilized. Those currently serving a sentence for possession or use will be given a pardon and their records wiped clean, so they have a better chance of finding employment or receiving student loans.
“TCNJ’s not an apolitical setting. Students are willing to come out to events like these,” said Jontan Moukh, a junior economics major and president of TCNJ Democrats, which hosted the event. “I think (Wisniewski) had a very progressive and optimistic view of what he’ll be able to accomplish if elected.”